The prosecution’s witness is a drug user.
The witness, who had previously been involved in drug trafficking, was questioned. During the preliminary investigation, he was unable to identify Oyub Titiyev, whom he had allegedly seen smoking marijuana. Because of this later it was necessary to repeat the identification and reclassify the original investigator as a witness.
On September 13, the 11th day of proceedings on the case of Oyub Titiev took place in the Shali City Court. The judge on the case is Madina Zaynetdinova. Lawyers Peter Zaikin, Ilya Novikov and Marina Dubrovina represent Titiev.
The prosecutor of the Kurchaloy district, Dzhabrail Akhmatov, and an employee of the republican prosecutor’s office, Milana Baytayeva, represent the prosecution.
Let’s recall that the head of the Grozny office of the Memorial Human Rights Center, Oyub Titiyev, was detained on January 9, 2018 in Chechnya, allegedly because the police found a bag of marijuana during a search of his car. A criminal case was opened against him under Part 2 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code. Titiev does not admit his guilt. Memorial claims that the criminal case against him is falsified. We recognized Oyub as a political prisoner.
On September 13, questioning of the prosecution’s witnesses continued.
Of the witnesses we heard on September 13, one of the most interesting testimonies was by Amadi Baskhanov. Born in 1982, Mr. Bashanov is a key witness in the case.
Baskhanov is the only one who allegedly saw Oyub smoke marijuana in the center of Grozny in broad daylight.
Baskhanov was questioned for about three and a half hours. Prosecutor Baytaeva complained twice that the defense was delaying the proceedings with their careful and meticulous questions to the witness. «Every time I hear from the state prosecution, which has presented 50 witnesses to us, who clearly dint know anything about the case, I feel I have a good reason to protest the allegations that the defense delays the trial by asking additional questions," Novikov told her.
The witness asked for a translator, although his testimony at the preliminary investigation was in Russian. Indeed, during thishearing, he answered many questions without translation in Russian.
In the courtroom, Baskhanov behaved as if he were under the influence of drugs. He spoke cheekily and emotionally, waved his hands, and rubbed his face and head. His pupils were dilated. The defense petitioned the court to check if he was under the influence while testifying.
However, the judge noted that she saw no reason to check and said, — «maybe this is just his way of communicating». Baskhanov himself said, «I have not been stoned for a long time. I used nasway (mild narcotic substance) for the last time on December 7 of last year, but then I got clean». Meanwhile, at some point during the interrogation, the witness said in Chechen, addressing the translator: «Tell them to let me go, I feel very bad. I’m sweating all over, I’m going to fall down now!». This caused a great stir among the Chechens present in the courtroom, but the translator did not translate these words into Russian. During the break, Baskhanov first went to the toilet and then sat on bench in the court’s courtyard. He shook visibly. After that, he unexpectedly and quickly came to his senses and rather cheerfully continued to testify.
Baskhanov has been prosecuted twice (in 2015 and 2016) in the Chechen Republic under the article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation related to drug trafficking (Article 228), although he has never received a punishment related to theactual deprivation of his liberty. Lawyer Zaikin noted that this is not typical for Chechnya, where they usually give at least four years in prison for such crimes. «According to the defense,Baskhanov is an unofficial employee of the law enforcement agencies», — Novikov said. — «He was recruited to slander Titiev in exchange for exemption from liability and lenience on his case».
According to Baskhanov, on January 9 around 6 pm he was on a marshutka (route taxi). He accidently caught a glimpse of Oyub Titiev on the phone screen of one of the other passengers and found out that Titiev had been detained for drug possession. He immediately remembered that he had seen this man (Titiev), smoking and smelling anasha, twice in downtown Grozny. On the same evening (January 9), Baskhanov allegedly accidentally met Rizvan, a police officer he knew from the Zavodsky district of Grozny, and told him that he had seen Titiev smoking anasha.
The history of relations between Baskhanov and Rizvan, according to the witness, is remarkable: «He is my friend, we became friends when he detained me for hemp». At the same time, Baskhanov never visited his «friend» at home, and Baskhanov allegedly gave his phone number only at a meeting on January 9, when a policeman said that he would be invited for questions. Indeed, the very next day, Baskhanov was questioned at the Kurchaloevsky police station. Baskhanov did not say anything about Titiev to any of his other acquaintances.
Over the course of the questioning many contradictions in Bashhanov’s testimony were revealed. For example, when speaking about the meeting with Rizvan on January 9, he first reported that he accidentally ran into him at the store, but then presented a different version: Rizvan was driving, but when he saw Baskhanov walking down the street, he stopped, got out of the car and spoke with him.
In addition, in court, Baskhanov first stated that on January 9 and 10 he did not know about what happened with Oyub and saw only one of his photos on the passenger’s phone of the marshutka. But during questioning during the preliminary investigation on January 10, he called Oyub a rights-defenderand mentioned a number of materials from the Internet, which, by that time, he had seen himself.
When Titiyev’s lawyers called attention to this contradiction, Baskhanov began to get confused and said that he still looked at Titiyev’s information on the phones of friends and acquaintances (he has a push-button telephone, the so-called «flashlight," which does not have internet access), but I could not name any of them. How he physically managed to do this, the witness did not explain: in his own words, after the evening meeting with Rizvan, he returned home late (all this happened in Grozny). The next day he woke up at lunchtime, and the questioning at the Kurchaloevsky police station began at about one in the afternoon.
Following this, Baskhanov was in the Kurchaloevsky police station two or three more times and each time he went there without a passport, which he allegedly forgot in a friend’s car. During questioning and identification process, the investigator also never checked his passport.
This is a different story related to identification. Recall that Oyub’s identification by this witness was a serious failure of the investigation — Baskhanov could not identify Titiev among several people shown to him. A protocol was drawn up about this, which was signed by Baskhanov, the investigator. Later, realizing that this failure had occurred, the investigation team decided to «replay» the identification results that were undesirable for their case. It was stated that the incompetent investigator who conducted the identification had accidently and incorrectly issued a protocol.
During the questioning in court, Baskhanov said that he actually identified Titiev, but did not know what he was signing. He could not clearly answer Novikov’s question on why he did not read the protocol.
According to the defense, at the time when Baskhanov was questioned and that he «identified» Titiev, he was, in fact, detained and transported under the control of employees of the Kurchaloyevsky police station.
Where and when did Baskhanov see Oyub Titiyev smoking marijuana? Baskhanov claims that he saw him smoking twice: in November and early December 2017. By chance in the center of Grozny he saw a stranger smoking, and at the same time he smelled marijuana. And then, again by chance, when he saw his photo on the stranger’s mobile phone on the marshyutka, he learned that this man was named Oyub Titiyev and was detained for drug possession. However, judging by the materials of the criminal case, from October 19 to December 14, 2017, Baskhanov was on the federal wanted list. He himself claims that, being supervised as a conditionally convicted person, he was obliged to be regularly noted in the FPS logs. However, at that time he did not do this because he was away — in Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk. For this reason, he was put on the «wanted» list.
The defense lawyers had a question: how then did he manage to see Oyub Titiyev in the center of Grozny twice in November and early December? The witness could not answer anything intelligently.
Saying goodbye to the witness, the judge asked him, with a smile, not to forget his passport in court.
The fact that the witness commented twice on national television in «exposing» programs about Oyub and Memorial supports the established position that Baskhanov has special agreements with the authorities and law enforcement agencies.
At the same hearing, Ruslan Usaev (born in 1969), assistant to the head of the Kurchaloevsky police department and head of HR, was questioned. According to his testimony, on January 9 he was in-charge and should have been informed about all incidents. On that day, the senior duty officer, Khodchukayev, called him and said that they had stopped the car for inspection due to the back taillight. Khodchukayev also said that he dispatched an investigative team to the scene. When asked by lawyers why a group had to be sent, Usaev «remembered» that he had been informed about the discovery of a «suspicious package." He himself did not go to the scene, because the violation was not serious, and he did not link it with a possible drug crime. Usaev does not know the other circumstances andhe was not interested in them.
Usaev said that there is no rapid reaction unit (RRU) within the Kurchaloevsky police station. Moreover, it does not exist within the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic. He did not see cars with the letters «RRU.»
Recall that Oyub Titiev was detained twice: the first time, thepolice officers were in green, striped camouflage with the letters «RRU». According to Oyub, they were the ones who planted drugs on him.
Denying the presence of a rapid reaction unit in the Kurchaloyevsky District Department of Internal Affairs, police witnesses are trying to refute the fact that Oyub was detained twice. They insist that there was only one arrest by police officers. At the same time, some of the police officers, including those who testified in court, publicly posted numerous photos and videos on social media pages, where they or their colleagues are dressed in green uniforms with the letters RRU. In the photos, they are patroling the streets on cars with the same letters.
Another witness, Deni Tataev (born 1994), was an intern at the Kurchaloevsky police station from November 13, 2017 to January 31, 2018. He was later let go due to staff downsizing.
On January 9, Tataev and police officers Khutaev, Garayev and Danchayev on the Kurchaloy-Mayrtup road staged the detention of Titiev in compliance with the norms of the law.
At the meeting, Tataev said that he did not take part in the inspection of the car or the inspection of the scene, but ratherstood nearby.
Under Garayev’s direction, he took Titiev in his car to the Kurchaloyevskiy police station. Oyub sat in the passenger seat. At that time, Tataev did not have a driver’s license with him. «If I were stopped by the traffic police, they would have fined me», — said the former intern. He parked the car at the police station and handed the keys to Oyub, who then handedthe keys over to a member of the investigative team. He was not worried about the safety of the physical evidence of the car. «I was told to take him to the police station, so I took him. Once they told me to, I had a reason to take him." In every way, the witness emphasized his ignorance about what had happened to Oyub.