Investigation of the “June events”: vengeance instead of justice
On April 6, an NGO from Kyrgyzstan, called Human right protection center (HRPC) “Kylym Shamy”, has made a presentation of its monitoring report covering the court investigations of the tragic events of June 2010 in the south of Kyrgyzstan. Presentation has been given at a round table in Bishkek attended by lawyers engaged in the court trials. According to the report findings, verdicts of guilty have been made solely on the basis of defendants’ confessions beaten out of them; in certain cases, convicts have been sentenced differently based on their ethnicity; and no security has been provided within the courts.
An attorney from the Osh province Tair Asanov has pointed to at least two main difficulties encountered: “First of all, they did not want to share with us even some basic documents related to cases tried, including indictments. Another problem is that all trial sessions have been either postponed or delayed. Some of the lawyers have reported finding out a date of trial not earlier than the trial’s day.”
The lawyer also underlines that absolutely all charges against defendants have been based upon personal confessions obtained through torture. Besides, some convicts have been sentenced to different imprisonment terms upon the same charges depending on their ethnicity: an ethnic Kyrgyz Myrza Musabayev has received a deferred sentence of 6 years on probation, while an ethic Uzbek Rustam Jalilov has been sentenced to 5 years in prison upon the same charges of “public disobedience and organization of mass unrests”.
According to HRPC’s lawyer Jibek Ismailova, all reported violations have been filed and communicated to the Supreme Court and the office of Prosecutor-General. However, all such protests have been overruled and referred to as ungrounded.
Round table’s moderator Dinara Ashirakhunova has wondered if the state has got the capacity to ensure the compliance with the law during the court trials. Deputy prosecutor-general Bakyt Osmonov has responded as follows: “No matter how long we may talk compliance in the court, there is no way we can help it today. I believe we need to find some “tolerant’ way about it..”
Does this actually mean that judges should give in to the plaintiffs in order to somehow calm down the society? And what is the point of having courts of justice if the state can not ensure their compliance with the law? Why not then have a lynch law instead? Does it really make any sense to continue such mock trials that only demonstrate the weakness of the state?
As a summary of the round table discussion, Dinara Ashirakhunova has voiced the following recommendations: “First of all, proceed with the reform of judiciary. Second of all, have judges rotated. Thirdly, ensure the safety and security of all parties during a trial. As a matter of fact, the authorities do attach the great significance to ensuring safety in the court that investigates the April 7 events. We wish they do the same here. It will also help to relocate the courts in safer places”.
“In addition, we need to find out exactly what the plaintiffs are seeking: vengeance or justice? This has to be clearly established: if it is justice they want, then we can do our job. Otherwise, neither courts no prosecutors can help it”.
On the 7th of April 2011, the Supreme Court has again postponed Azimzhan Askarov’s case for an undefined period of time. Apparently, two months was not enough for the Supreme Court to study lawyers’ complaints against irregularities committed during investigation; besides, lawyers have provided the Supreme Court with testimonies of witnesses who were afraid to speak in the court in the south. But it is also possible, that Askarov’s case is simply being “exhausted”. Perhaps, the judiciary see this as the only “tolerant way” to deal with the current situation, as referred to by the representative of the prosecutor-general at the round-table.
By Ekaterina Ivashenko