Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 28

On February 8, the Stavropol Krai court found Aiset Dadasheva and Fatima Taimaskhanova guilty of organizing and carrying out the bombing of the Pyatigorsk railroad station in April 1997. Two people died and thirty were wounded in the terrorist bombing. Dadasheva and Taimaskhanova were sentenced, respectively, to sixteen years and nineteen years in a strict-regime prison colony (Segodnya, February 9). It would not be an exaggeration to say that this one of the most high-profile court cases in the period since perestroika. The case lasted seven months due to the numerous protests by the lawyers of the accused and threats by rebel Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, who said that the bombing was carried out on his orders but not by the accused Chechen women. The official Chechen authorities have frequently charged that the case against the women was fabricated.

Judicial officials, not without basis, feared reprisals by Chechen terrorists, and the process was therefore closed to the public and to journalists. The fact that the locations for the court sessions were constantly changed led many journalists to assume that the judges, fearing the wrath of Chechen fighters, would not turn in a guilty verdict. The fact that the process was seen through to the end is undoubtedly a victory for Russian jurisprudence. At the same time, neither of the accused admit their guilt, and both claimed that the evidence they gave was forced out of them through threats of beatings.

It cannot be ruled out that Chechen fighters will carry out new terrorist acts in response to the verdict.