Classified witnesses for the prosecution – victims of the Federal Guard Service – said in court today that they had not witnessed the crimes committed by the protest leaders. A total of 25 prosecution witnesses have already spoken in favor of the defendants, lawyer Magomed Bekov told Fortanga.

“The victims were unable to provide the court with any information relevant to the criminal case. Namely, the victims reported that they were not eyewitnesses to the organization of violence against representatives of the authorities, as well as were not eyewitnesses to the creation of an extremist community and participation of protest leaders in it”, – said Magomed Bekov.

The second part of the trial was held in open court today. The prosecution has presented formal evidence that does not compromise the defendants, the lawyer said.

“The prosecutor’s office read out the so-called “evidence” of the prosecution. These are items seized during searches of the protest leaders – phones, tablets, which do not carry any information that would be relevant to the criminal case. This is evidenced by the protocols of inspection of these gadgets, but, nevertheless, the public prosecution examines them and announces them, although they do not carry any legally significant information for the prosecution,” said Magomed Bekov.

The defence did not rule out that the witnesses had been pressured because they subsequently changed their testimony and gave different information in court.

“During the preliminary investigation, witnesses reported information that had nothing to do with what they reported at today’s trial. Moreover, we believe that the witnesses are being prepared for the trial, as a consequence of which they give an excessive amount of previously given testimony,” lawyer Jabrail Kuriyev told Fortanga.

He noted that the prosecution had no reason to classify the victims, as Article 166 of the RF Code of Criminal Procedure (preparation of the record of the investigative action) was violated. “We have filed a petition for the declassification of these witnesses, because they have not provided a statement on the classification of their data, as well as no real threats to the witnesses have been established. And under such circumstances, we are convinced that their data is classified without merit,” the defence counsel explained.

According to the lawyer, the prolonged detention in custody has aggravated the state of health of his client Malsag Uzhakhov – he has aggravated chronic diseases. Despite this, Uzhakhov refuses to be assisted by doctors in order to avoid an even longer trial.

Dzhabrail Kuriyev also noted that the protest leaders were widely supported – residents of Ingushetia, a delegation from the Chechen Republic, journalists and Svetlana Astrakhantseva, a well-known human rights activist and executive director of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

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, including. They are accused of organizing and calling for violence against representatives of the authorities, as well as creating and participating in an extremist community. On 26 February, Ahmed Pahorov, a person involved in the rally case, was detained.

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