Supreme Court cuts 'Cadet' Lapin's sentence

posted 28 Jul 2011, 11:47 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Jul 2011, 11:58 ]
28 July 2011

Translation by Memorial

On July 26, 2011 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation considered a supervisory complaint on behalf of Sergei Lapin, a former officer of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. Lapin (call sign "Cadet") is the only officer of federal power structures to be convicted for his involvement in the disappearance of a Chechnya resident during armed conflict. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence but reduced Lapin's sentence by six months, up to 10 years in prison in connection with the softening of sanctions on one of the charges against him.

In 2000-2001, Sergei Lapin served in the Oktyabrsky Temporary Department of Internal Affairs (TDIA) in the city of Grozny as part of a joint police detachment (CPD) of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. During this period, dozens detained in the Chechen Republic "disappeared" in the Oktyabrsky TDIA.

On January 2, 2001 Oktyabrsky TDIA staff detained twenty-six year old Zelimkhan Murdalov, after which the young man "disappeared". The investigation conducted by his father, Astamir Murdalov, and an employee of the Grozny office of HRC "Memorial" Natalia Estemirova, found that Zelimkhan had been tortured to death, then taken from the police office in an unknown direction, and that the crime involved "Cadet" Lapin. Anna Politkovskaya wrote about this story in "Novaya Gazeta." "Cadet" began to threaten her, and the threats resulted in a criminal case in which Politkovskaya was represented by Stanislav Markelov. The criminal trial related to the "disappearance" of Zelimkhan, in which Lapin was the main defendant, received wide publicity. Together, Estemirova, Politkovskaya and Markelov, as a lawyer for the victim, Astamir Murdalov, have condemned "Cadet" as one of the guilty in one of the thousands of "disappearances" since the "Second Chechen War."

Lapin was taken into custody on January 25, 2005. On March 29, 2005, the Grozny Oktyabrsky district court found Lapin guilty and sentenced him to 11 years imprisonment.

Moreover, since the body of Murdalov was not found, Article 111 (grievous bodily harm with aggravating circumstances), ii. "a" "b," "v" Part 3. Article 286 (exceeding official powers) and Part 3. 292 (forgery) of the Criminal Code figured into the indictment.

Lapin's lawyer, G.A. Degtyarev, appealed the verdict. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Chechnya upheld the guilty verdict made by Grozny's Oktyabrsky district court. The lawyer Degtyarev filed an oversight complaint. On January 17, 2007, the Supreme Court returned the case of "Cadet" for a reconsideration of the court's new composition. Markelov was still the victim's lawyer. On November 27, 2007, Grozny's Oktyabrsky court again recognized Lapin as guilty and sentenced him to 10 years and 6 months imprisonment.

Degtyarev again filed an appeal, which was considered by the Judicial Board for Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Chechnya on April 16, 2008, and then a supervisory appeal, which was considered by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Chechnya on January 14, 2010. In both instances the complaint was rejected.

In his third appeal in a row, Degtyarev asked to repeal the decision of the Judicial Board for Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic on 16 April 2008, as well as the sentence made in Grozny's Oktyabrsky Regional Court, Republic of Chechnya, on November 27, 2007.

The Russian Federation Supreme Court partially upheld Lapin's appeal, having reversed the decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Chechnya on April 16, 2008, and reclassified the charges from item “a” Part 3 Article 111 of the RF Criminal Code as amended on July 15, 1996 to item “a” Part 3 Article 111 of the RF Criminal Code as amended on March 7, 2011. The rest of the sentence and the appeal determination remain unchanged. Thus, Lapin's sentence has been mitigated not in connection to the change in the qualification of his actions, but due to the enforcement of the new wording of Article 111.

Meanwhile, the fate and whereabouts of Zelimkhan Murdalov are still unknown. Two other defendants in the “'Cadet's Case" - his co-workers and executives, Lieutenant Colonel Valery Minin and Major Alexander Prilepin, are registered on the federal wanted list to this day.

Supervisory appeal by lawyer G.A. Degtyarev on the behalf of S.V. Lapin as of July 25, 2011: http://www.memo.ru/2011/07/27/1.pdf;
Objection to the supervisory complaint by the victim, A.Sh. Murdalov, as of July 25, 2011: http://www.memo.ru/2011/07/27/2707112.html;
Verdict by the Oktyabrsky Regional Court, Grozny, from November 27, 2007: http://www.memo.ru/2011/07/27/2707114.html;
Supervisory Supreme Court of the Republic of Chechnya, ruling from January 14, 2010: http://www.memo.ru/2011/07/27/2707113.html.

See other materials on the Lapin case:
http://www.memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/msg/2005/03/m34479.htm;
http://www.memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/msg/2005/01/m32537.htm;
http://www.memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/msg/2007/09/m101938.htm;
http://www.memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/msg/2005/03/m34436.htm.


July 28, 2011

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Human Rights Center Memorial, 127051, Russia, Moscow, Maly Karetny, 12
tel: +7 (495) 225-3118, fax: +7 (495) 624-2025, email: memhrc@memo.ru
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