Austria should demand the extradition of murder suspect sheltered by Russia | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Austria should demand the extradition of murder suspect sheltered by Russia

Austria should demand the extradition of murder suspect sheltered by Russia

In a letter sent today to the Federal Minister of Justice in Austria Dr. Beatrix Karl, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders, Austrian Helsinki Association, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urges the Austrian government to request the extradition of Lecha Bogatyrov from the Russian Federation. Lecha Bogatyrov is the man who allegedly fired the fatal shots that killed the Chechen exile Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. Three men were convicted 1 June 2011 by the Vienna Landesgericht to long prison sentences for the killing of Israilov, but the current current impunity for Mr. Israilov’s alleged killer should be treated as a political issue by the Austrian government.

Read more about the Israilov case

 

Dr. Beatrix Karl, Federal Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice,
Republic of Austria

 

Austria should demand the extradition of murder suspect sheltered by Russia


Dear Dr. Karl,

 

(Berlin, London, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm, Vienna 6 June, 2012.) 1 June 2011, a year ago last week, three men were convicted by the Vienna Landesgericht to long prison sentences for the killing of Chechen exile Umar Israilov, who was shot on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. The deed was carried out “on behalf of a foreign power”, according to the Austrian court.

Israilov was a critic of the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, whom he claimed was personally responsible for numerous crimes, including torture and murder. Israilov had lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, despite having received numerous threats. The killing was one of several murders of rivals and critics of Russian and Chechen authorities outside of Russia.

The three men of Chechen origin had links to Chechen authorities, including President Kadyrov himself, and were convicted of killing Israilov during a botched attempt to kidnap him. The decision of the Austrian court was made possible by meticulous work of the Austrian police and investigators, and represents a milestone in the decade-long effort to end impunity connected to the conflict in Chechnya.

Yet the man who allegedly fired the fatal shots, Russian national Lecha Bogatyrov, a former member of a Chechen paramilitary force loyal to Russian authorities, remains a fugitive of justice. Moreover, Mr. Bogatyrov appears to enjoy a high standing with Chechen and Russian authorities. He was reportedly appointed chief of a special police unit in a Chechen village on his return from Austria. A request by the Austrian court to interview as witnesses him and four other Chechens connected to the murder trial, including Mr. Kadyrov, has not been answered by the Russian justice authorities.

Austrian authorities should not passively stand by this apparently deliberate attempt at obstructing justice by Russian authorities. The undersigned organizations have worked with documenting human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Chechnya, and monitored the Israilov trial as it unfolded. In our view, the Israilov trial is among the most important human rights cases in Europe of the last years.

Even though the Austrian court decision was a milestone, the Israilov case is not finished as long as a key suspect remains at large and the many questions as to who ordered, commissioned, funded, aided and abetted the killing are unanswered. We therefore urge you, as the highest political authority of the Austrian justice system, to request the extradition of Mr. Lecha Bogatyrov from the Russian Federation.

Although Austria does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, the Austrian government has numerous bilateral dealings with Russia, and Russia is a member of the Council of Europe, an organization committed to rule of law and human rights. The current impunity for Mr. Israilov’s alleged killer should be treated as a political issue, and we urge you to engage in this matter.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Joachim Frank                                                                                                 Robert Hardh                   

Chair                                                                                                               Executive Director

Austrian Helsinki Association                                                                           Civil Rights Defenders  

 

                                                                                                       

Wolfgang Kaleck                                                                                            Hugh Williamson            

General Secretary                                                                                          Director of Europe/Central Asia Div.

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights                                 Human Rights Watch

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Souhayr Belhassen                                                                                       Bjørn Engesland

President                                                                                                      Secretary General

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)                                        Norwegian Helsinki Committee

 

 

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