Two charged with Nemtsov killing include former Chechen policeman

admin   •   March 9, 2015   •   2499

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, detained over the killing of Boris Nemtsov, is escorted inside a court building in Moscow, March 8, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

(Reuters) – Russian authorities said on Sunday they had charged two men over the killing of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov and said one of them was a former senior policeman from the mainly Muslim region of Chechnya who had confessed to involvement in the crime.

The two were among five men, all ethnic Chechens, frogmarched into a Moscow courtroom on Sunday, forced by masked security officers gripping their bound arms to walk doubled over, a Reuters reporter at the court said.

The men stood in metal cages as television crews were ushered in to film them.

Nemtsov was shot dead on the night of Feb. 27 within sight of the Kremlin walls, in the most high-profile killing of an opposition figure in the 15 years that President Vladimir Putin has been in power.

Judge Natalia Mushnikova ordered that all five men should remain in custody.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin ally, said the former policeman, Zaur Dadayev, was a pious Muslim who had been angered by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Nemtsov, a liberal, had defended the cartoons after Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris in January. Russian investigators said last week they were looking into the possibility that Islamist militants had killed Nemtsov.

“All who know Zaur confirm that he is a deep believer and also that he, like all Muslims, was shocked by the activities of Charlie and comments in support of printing the cartoons,” Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account.

Kadyrov described Dadayev as “a true patriot of Russia” who had received several medals for bravery but had subsequently resigned from his interior ministry regiment for reasons the Chechen leader said were unclear.

There have been cases in the past where employees of Russian law enforcement agencies have been prosecuted after moonlighting for organized crime groups.

CONFESSION

“Dadayev’s involvement in committing this crime is confirmed by, apart from his own confession, the totality of evidence gathered as part of this criminal case,” Mushnikova told Sunday’s court hearing.

The other man charged is Anzor Gubashev. The three other suspects are his brother Shagid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov. Previously, investigators said they only had two suspects in custody.

Separately, Russia’s Interfax news agency, quoting a Chechen law enforcement source, said a man killed in a standoff with police in the Chechen capital Grozny late on Saturday had also been wanted by police in connection with Nemtsov’s killing.

When police arrived at an apartment block, the man threw one grenade at officers and then blew himself up with a second, Interfax said.

Some associates of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister who became a Putin critic, say the Kremlin stands to gain from his death. Russian officials deny involvement and Putin has condemned the killing.

The court hearings on Sunday were given extensive coverage on state-controlled media, and presented as proof the authorities were conducting a thorough investigation – not the cover-up some of Nemtsov’s friends say they anticipate.

But associates of Nemtsov say they will not be satisfied unless prosecutors track down whoever orchestrated the killing, rather than just the people who pulled the trigger.

There was no word from investigators on who the suspects were alleged to have been working for.

Several other high-profile killings in Russia, including the 2006 shooting of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, have been attributed to gunmen from Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus region, while those who ordered the crimes were never firmly identified.

Chechnya has seen violent separatist insurgencies over the past two decades. It is now firmly under the control of Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides and pledges loyalty to Putin.

(Additional reporting by Christian Lowe, editing by Gareth Jones)

Iraqis defy tear gas, upcoming curfew as protests stretch on

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

 Iraqi protesters react after police fired tear gas at them during a protest at al-Tahrir square, central Baghdad, Iraq, 28 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).

Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.

At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.

More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.

Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.

A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.

Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)

READ: DFA cautions Filipinos against travel to Iraq

(Production: Haider Kadhim, Mohammed Al-Ramahi, Mohammed Katfan, Hannah Ellison)

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US Military: No footage on Baghdadi’s death will be released

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump answers a reporter’s question as he participates in a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 07 October 2019. At right is United States Army General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. EPA-EFE/Ron Sachs

Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains had been disposed of and there were no plans to share footage on his death, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley announced on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria.

Trump said earlier that part of the footage on the operation would be released, but military sources said that the footage might expose some confidential information about the U.S. military, adding that the footage should go through strict checks before it is published.

The Associated Press on Monday released footage taken by a witness when the U.S. military launched a raid in northwestern Syria — but the authenticity of the footage has not been verified.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday expressed “prudent welcome” to Baghdadi’s death, saying the U.S. has made a big contribution to fighting terrorism “if confirmed”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it does not have reliable information about the U.S. operation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria that allegedly killed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday stressed that the extremist ideology and the support for it still exist in the Middle East, and the death of Baghdadi was a “creature” killed by the U.S.

On the same day, Iranian government Spokesman Ali Rabiee said al-Baghdadi’s death is the end of a symbol of “destructive terrorism,” and the U.S. should end its interventions in the Middle East. (Reuters)

Tokyo 2020 gymnastics, boccia venue unveiled

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) on Tuesday (October 29) unveiled the new Ariake Gymnastics Centre, which will host Gymnastic and Boccia events during the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The 12,000-seat, 30-meter height venue, whose construction was completed on 25 October, has no pillar in the performance area.

The central element of the architecture is a 90-meter spanned, local larch wood roof that arches over the building’s core.

Timbers of Larch were all domestically sourced including from Hokkaido, Nagano and Miyazaki prefectures to name a few.

The venue, located in the Ariake district of the Japanese capital that will host many other Olympic events, will be also used as an exhibition center when the Games are over.

One of the Tokyo 2020 officials at a press viewing of the venue, Koichi Fukui, told reporters that wood materials would eventually be used as partitions at exhibitions and all the bench boards would be recycled into shoe shelves for schools.

The venue will host the 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in November. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Yoko Kono)

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