24 Dec 2019 21:36

Russian Supreme Court commutes sentences of Simferopol defendants in Hizb ut-Tahrir case

SIMFEROPOL. Dec 24 (Interfax) - The Russian Supreme Court has commuted the sentences handed down by the first-instance court, which found five Crimean residents guilty of organizing a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell (banned in Russia) in Simferopol or of membership in its activities, by six months at its session on Tuesday.

"The court commuted the prison terms of all five of the convicts by six months," lawyer Edem Semedlyayev, who defended several defendants in the criminal case, told Interfax.

Teimur Abdullayev is thus sentenced to 16.5 years in a high-security penal colony, Rustem Ismailov to 13.5 years, Uzeir Abdullayev to 12.5 years, and Aider Saledinov and Emil Dzhemadenov to 11.5 years each.

The defense intends to go to the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies, Semedlyayev said.

The five men, including two Abudallayev brothers, were detained in the fall of 2016.

Investigators said that Teimur Abdullayev formed a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia, in Simferopol in March 2014. Law enforcement said that it was well-organized and operated secretly. The other four Crimean natives were members of the cell, according to law enforcement agencies.

The North Caucasian District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don that was later renamed the Southern District Military Court in June 2019 recognized Teimur Abdullayev as the organizer of a cell of the group outlawed in Russia and the other four Crimean residents as its members and sentenced them to from 12 to 17 years in a high-security penal colony. The defendants did not plead guilty. Lawyers filed appeals against the first-instance court ruling.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the case against these five Crimean residents is fabricated and the verdict unlawful and urged the international community to tighten anti-Russian sanctions.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party) has been designated a terrorist organization in Russia and has been forbidden since 2003, in line with the Russian Supreme Court verdict. Hizb ut-Tahrir's activity is in no way regulated in Ukraine, with Crimea being part of Ukraine following the breakup of the USSR until a referendum which determined the peninsula's status in the spring of 2014.