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Sep. 01, 2004
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They Don't Teach Us to Give Ourselves Up, They Teach Us to Push the Button
// The Supreme Court Refuses Zarema Muzhikhoeva's Appeal
The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation considered the appeal filed by the lawyer for Zarema Muzhikhoeva, who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to carry out a terrorist act in downtown Moscow in July 2003. The court denied the appeal and left the sentence in force. Muzhikhoeva's lawyer holds that the recent explosion of two passenger planes, which is also assumed to be the work of female suicide bombers (called Shakhid-women from the Arabic shahid, witness, martyr).
Recall that 22-year-old Muzhikhoeva was arrested in Moscow on the night of July 9, 2003, in front of Mon Café restaurant on 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street. According to investigators, she tried to explode a bomb hidden in a suitcase, but the detonator failed. Muzhikhoeva has claimed that the bomb did not go off because she voluntarily refused to commit the terrorist act. FSB bomb expert Georgy Trofimov later died while trying to defuse the bomb.

Almost immediately after the arrest of the would-be terrorist, she confessed and began to provide evidence. Thanks to her, it was possible to learn the circumstances surrounding the terrorist blast at the Krylya rock festival, killing 20 in the Tushino area of Moscow the same month, and to determine the identities of those guilty of the act. But that did not placate the jury at the Moscow City Court, which found her guilt without lenience. On the basis of that verdict, judge Petr Shtunder sentenced her to 20 years' detention in a prison colony.

Muzhikhoeva and her lawyer, Natalya Evlapova, filed an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court. In the appeal, Evlapova asks for the verdict to be reversed because her client was not provided with a translator and could not follow the course of her case. In addition, the lawyer wrote, the state prosecutor attempted illegally to influence the jury and create bias against Muzhikhoeva.

The lawyer holds in particular that the prosecutor illegal disclosed the decision of the Sunzhen district court in Chechnya to strip her of parental rights over her daughter and showed the jury the bloodied protective clothing of the bomb expert who was killed. In addition, the lawyer said, the court did not take into consideration when passing sentence that Muzhikhoeva actively assisted in solving a crime and finding the organizers of other terrorist acts.

Muzhikhoeva repeated in court that she did not intend to blow up Mon Café restaurant on 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya St.

I ask the court for a just sentence, Muzhikhoeva said over closed-circuit television from a holding facility. If I had wanted to explode the bomb, I would have done it. When I refused to commit the terrorist act, I could have left the suitcase and walked away. That was my decision. They don't teach us to give ourselves up, they teach us to push the button. Other girls [potential Shakhid-women] are watching me, and if I am convicted, they won't give themselves up.

Muzhikhoeva requested that the sentence be reversed and a new trial be granted her. Prosecutor Kamil Kashaev sought to keep the verdict in force. He indicated that the objection concerning the translator was groundless, since Muzhikhoeva had refused a translator during the investigation. The Supreme Court denied the appeal and left the sentence in force.

We are always unlucky, Evlapova said. When the verdict was reached in April 2004, the explosion in the Moscow Metro influenced the jury, and now the terrorist acts on the airplanes have influenced the Supreme Court. But we will not despair. I am going to consult with my client and, if she agrees, appeal to the president of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 01, 2004

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