‘We Killed Beslan and We Will Kill You’ – Nemtsov Murder Trial Continues, as Suspects Testify of Torture

October 14, 2016
Moscow police with the body of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated late on the night of February 27, 2015 on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge near the Kremlin. Photo by Pavel Golovkin/AP

LIVE UPDATES: The trial of five defendants in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov continues in Moscow District Military Court. Three of the defendants testified that they were tortured to extract confessions.

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‘We Killed Beslan and We Will Kill You’ – Nemtsov Murder Trial Continues, as Suspects Testify of Torture

The trial of five defendants in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov continues in Moscow District Military Court, Novaya Gazeta reported. The trial is in a military court because some of the defendants were officers in the Chechen Interior Ministry Internal Troops at the time of the murder.
The trial is closed to the public but members of the press have been allowed to attend. Novaya Gazeta reported today that all five Chechen defendants pleaded not guilty and said they were tortured while in pre-trial detention to extract their confessions.
The defense has asked to obtain all video surveillance tapes from the area where the murder took place. This has been a key objection throughout the investigation, as law-enforcers claimed that cameras under control of the FSO (the Federal Protection Service, responsible for guarding the top leadership and the Kremlin grounds) were “broken” or “not recording,” which no one found plausible. Only some of the tapes have been provided in the case. The theory is that this footage will show that Nemtsov was followed by FSB agents or some other aspect of the murder that authorities do not want to make public.
Judge Yury Zhitnikov said that all of the tapes had been requested but they were “not of interest to the investigation.”
Mikhail Bersenev, a passing driver whose dashcam recorded the bridge area minutes before Nemtsov was assassinated, testified in court and his video was shown. The film shows two figures walking past the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. A black Mercedes turns on to the bridge and crosses the double lines then turns on to Bolotnaya Square.
The prosecutor announced that the car of the murderer would be seen, and the defense objected, saying the prosecutor was influencing the jury. The judge said the film should be examined without statements. This may be the Mercedes in which Ruslan Geremeyev, said to have organized the murder, was traveling.
Musa Khadisov, the lawyer for Anzor Gubashev, requested infor,ation about where his client was taken from March 8-18, 2016 right after he was detained. He believes that during unlawul meetings with investigators his client was tortured. Gubashev said both an FSB investigator and the Investigative Committee’s senior investigator Ivan Krasnov threatened him and his wife, saying they would all “definitely go to prison.”
His voice shaking, Gubashev said in court (translation by The Interpreter):

“We were not detained, we were abducted. I was tied up and tortured with electrical shock for almost 24 hours. I was filmed with bruises later. I was told : you’re lucky, you bastard, important people want to talk to you. Otherwise we would have forced you to say what we needed. At first they intimidated us with a [labor colony] sentence, then said, ‘We killed Beslan and we’ll kill you.’ [Beslan Shavanov, one of the men accused of the murder, died when police came to detain him when his grenade exploded–Novaya Gazeta.] Krasnov gave me a statement to sign that I had refused a lawyer. And then the group of investigators was changed — they had deceived me, that if I sign it, I would be let go. I will speak only the truth, I will tell how I was tortured.”

Shadid Gubashev, his brother, gave a similar account and described how a bag was put over his head. He said investigators told him that if his brother didn’t plead guilty himself, all of us would be put in prison:

I gave false testimony on my brother, my brother asked me to, he said what I had to say. On April 9, Krasnov came with the FSG agents, he was all in scars. They said that everything had already been decided about me. They said I had to add to my testimony that Anzor and [Zaur] Dadayev told me that they had committed the crime. And that my brother would be brought to me. My brother asked me to give testimony. “Why are you asking me to do this?” I said. “You have to, then you’ll be let go.” Dadayev did the shooting, Beslan did the tailing, and Anzor was behind the wheel. But even in the village he couldn’t drive, let alone in Moscow! But he asked me to, so I said that. That is, I was dictated this.”

Zaur Dadayev, claimed to be the trigger man, gave similar testimony.

“I was detained with Rustam Yusupov, I was told that they would kill him if I didn’t give testimony. That in the best case I would simply be killed and thrown by the side of the road. They took samples and biological materials without records, just like that. To put it crudely, they had their way with me. They used electrical shock, I passed out four times. As a result, I perjured myself, Anzor Gubashev and Beslan Shavanov, that we were involved with this. On March 6-7, 2016, I was dictated everything I was to say by people in masks at the Investigative Committee. But I haven’t been in Moscow, I only know the Kremlin. I refused, I was stripped naked, they brought in a bottle and said they would sit me on it. I signed everything and took it all on myself. Then various people came and went, Krasnov came, the FSB agents as well, and said that I should also admit to the ammunition, or they’d stick my brother with it. I sat tied to a radiator for two days. Like a dog.”

Prosecutor Mariya Semeneko said that there were refusals to open a criminal case (regarding torture) based on Dadayev’s and the Gubashevs’ testimonies because there were no signs of torture. They had also written statements that they had not been threatened. She also pointed out that Shadid had been told to refuse a lawyer by the attorney Musa Khadisov, but now he was saying the investigators demanded this.

The rest of the hearing concerned testimony by investigators and ballistics experts on the bullet casings found at the scene of various types. The trial will resume next Tuesday, October 18.,

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick¬†