Mar 23, 2007

Ingushetia: Extrajudicial Killings Continue

People in Ingushetia are blaming a series of extrajudicial killings on security officials from outside their region. Sources report that the GRU or FSB are responsible.

Below is an extract from an article published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting;

People in the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia have expressed outrage at the killing of a local man, which they say is only the latest in a string of extrajudicial executions they blame on security service agents from outside the autonomous republic.

Early on March 15, a group of armed men in camouflage gear arrived in armoured vehicles to detain Husein Mutaliev, 26, at his house in the town of Malgobek.

Mutaliev’s mother, sister and neighbours said they saw him being taken outside the gate of the house and beaten up. They say he attempted to escape, but was shot in the head and fell down. The men then loaded him into one of the vehicles and drove away.

Husein’s brother Hasan followed the men in his own car as far as Ingushetia’s border with neighbouring North Ossetia. The Ingush traffic police at the frontier checkpoint told him that the armed unit had produced identity cards showing them as agents of Russia’s GRU military intelligence, and were allowed to pass.

The local authorities returned Mutaliev’s dead body to his family the next day.

He leaves behind a wife and three-month-old baby.

“The masked soldiers broke into our house without a search warrant, they behaved badly and swore. When I asked them who sent them, they answered, laughing, ‘Putin sent us’,” the dead man’s mother Makka Mutalieva told IWPR. “I hope the president will punish them severely for these words... for using his name while committing crimes, doing violence and killing people. Fourteen years of war have already reduced our numbers - when are these arbitrary killings going to end?”

Following the killing, Interfax news agency quoted an official source as saying that Mutaliev had been “destroyed” after putting up armed resistance to an attempt to arrest him. He was, the report alleged, an Islamist militant leader who took part in a bloody raid on Ingushetia in 2004.

Last September, Mutaliev was held in custody for ten days and then released. During that time, he said, security officials beat him and tried to make him confess to being a terrorist.

Other officials in Ingushetia have defended the dead man and said they were concerned at what had happened. An interior ministry source in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district questioned the official version of events, saying Mutaliev was not listed as wanted by the Russian or local authorities, and had no criminal record. He was not a member of an illegal armed group, nor did he maintain links with armed militants, the source said.

Ingushetia’s prosecution service is treating the killing as a crime. It launched a criminal case several hours after Mutaliev was detained, and later passed the case to the Russian prosecutor for the Southern Federal District, which covers the whole of the North Caucasus.