Extradition, Torture, and… Release?

gasayev090209.jpgUsually when human rights groups lobby to foreign governments not to extradite a Chechen back to Russia, their concerns are well founded by fears of torture, inadequate legal rights, and a less than shining record on treatment of detainees.  That was the case of Murat Gasayev, a Chechen who fled to Spain after being arrested and tortured in connection with the bombing of some buildings in Ingushetia in 2007.  Despite protests from rights groups, the Spaniards decided to ship Gasayev back into Russian custody in December 2008.

Defying any grim expectations of a “prison accident” or suspicious suicide in his cell, just a few days ago Gasayev was released from jail after ten months pre-trial detention.  Needless to say, this is really, really rare – perhaps the case will be used precedent in future extradition requests as a testament to Russia’s lawful conduct?

From Human Rights Watch:

“It’s a great relief that Gasayev is out of detention, but he should never have been there in the first place,” said Tanya Lokshina, deputy Moscow director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope that the Russian authorities will now let him rebuild his life.”

The senior investigator in charge of the case ruled on June 30, 2009, that all charges should be dropped against Gasayev, whose alibi was corroborated by five witnesses. Much of the case, and the extradition request to Spain, appears to have been based on statements made under interrogation by another detainee, Idriss Matiev, naming Gasayev as a participant in the June 2004 attacks. Matiev later retracted this statement, alleging that he had been subjected to beatings, torture with electricity, and threats against his family.