Witnesses for the prosecution in the rally case for questioning were detained by force and taken to investigators. This is what they told the court at today’s hearing. Lawyers, commenting to Fortanga on this testimony, pointed to gross violations of witnesses’ rights.

“In the morning two witnesses for the prosecution were questioned. The evidence taken from them at the stage of the preliminary investigation was obtained in violation of the law. They were brought in by force. Not as witnesses, without an invitation. They were detained at five in the morning, while force was used against family members”, – said Magomed Kuriyev, the defender of Malsag Uzhakhov.

He added that the interrogation of witnesses during the preliminary investigation was carried out with gross violations of the rights of detainees. Magomed Bekov, a lawyer, confirmed this information, saying that security forces in masks took witnesses to Magas and kept them in the building of the Investigative Committee from 5am to 8pm, without explaining their rights. These kinds of interrogations are not admissible evidence, Bekov said.

A total of five people – two witnesses and three victims – were questioned during the meeting. Witnesses said they did not consider the defendants guilty, lawyer Bashir Tochiyev told Fortanga.

“Witnesses from the prosecution side were questioned. Once again we heard that these people [protest leaders] didn’t call for anything. The attitude of people to our defendants is only positive. They do not consider themselves as witnesses for the prosecution and are even indignant about it,” Tochiev said.

Human rights journalist Daria Kornilova told Fortanga that a support group of protest leaders from among the elders, as well as relatives of the defendants, came to the trial. None of them could get to the trial, as the interrogation was held in closed session.

Rallies against the Ingushetia-Chechnya border agreement have been held in Magas since autumn 2018. In March 2019, they turned into clashes with security forces and detentions of activists. A total of 46 people were arrested and about 30 people received real sentences on charges of violence against government officials. Seven protest leaders are in the dock. They are accused of organizing and violence against representatives of the authorities, as well as of creating and participating in an extremist community. 26 February, Ahmed Pahorov, a person involved in the rally case, was detained. At the March 30th hearing, another victim who had been questioned was unable to confirm that the Ingush protest leaders were guilty.

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