Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled on April 6 that grave crimes commmited by the military in Chechnya would be tried by military tribunals until the use of juries is introduced there, the Moscow Times reported on April 7. The ruling came in response to an appeal by Chechen President Alu Alkhanov for a Constitutional Court opinion on the case of Army Captain Eduard Ulman, accused of killing six people in the south of Chechnya in January 2002. Juries in Rostov-on-Don twice acquitted Ulman and three co-defendants on charges of murder and abuse of office, but the Russian Supreme Court’s military court overturned the rulings. Alkhanov argued that the juries were chosen illegally because they did not consist of residents of Chechnya.
While the Constitutional Court formally rejected Alkhanov’s appeal, RIA Novosti on April 6 quoted his representiative on the Constitutional Court, Murad Musayev, as saying he was satisfied with the ruling. “We have achieved our ultimate goal, and the Ulman case will be heard in a professional non-jury court,” Musayev told reporters.”
Meanwhile, the Rostov-based North Caucasus Military District Court on April 6 sentenced contract soldier Alexei Krivoshyonok to 18 years in prison for hooliganism resulting in the murder of three Chechen civilians. The court ruled that a drunken Krivoshyonok and two other servicemen detained six civilians near the village of Staraya Sunzha last November and that Krivoshyonok killed three of them (see Chechnya Weekly, November 23, 2005). The other two servicemen, who face lesser charges of assault and destroying property, will be tried separately by a military court in Grozny.
Turkishpress.com, citing Itar-Tass, reported on April 6 that the prosecutor had asked for 20 years prison, but did not request a life sentence because of the Krivoshyonok’s previous service record and responsibilities as a father of three. According to the prosecution, Krivoshonok stabbed one man at the roadblock 15 times after he protested at being thrown on the ground by the soldier. Krivoshonok then shot the man in the head and killed the two witnesses, according to reports. RIA Novosti reported on April 5 that in his final statements to the court, Krivoshyonok admitted his guilt and asked the relatives of his victims for forgiveness.