Chechen girl's killer released provoking anger

Rights groups have accused Russian troops of arbitrary detentions and torture in Chechnya.

Chechen girl's killer released provoking anger

A Russian colonel jailed for murdering a Chechen girl was freed early from prison on Thursday, provoking indignation in Chechnya where one local official suggested he should be put to death.

The case of Colonel Yuri Budanov, the highest-ranking Russian officer jailed for war crimes in Chechnya, has become a symbol of human rights abuses by federal forces.
Chechns have fought two wars against Russian troops to gain independence.

Budanov was arrested in 2000 and jailed for 10 years three years later after being found guilty of murdering 18-year-old Elza Kungayeva during a tour of duty in the region.

Mostly Muslim Chechnya, whose society is based on close-knit clan relations and was rocked by protest rallies last month when a court in central Russia ruled Budanov should be granted early release.

"This (Budanov's release) is simply unlawful," Svyatoslav Markelov, a lawyer for the Kungayev family, told Reuters. A complaint he lodged had thwarted Budanov's release earlier this week. Markelov had planned to file a more detailed complaint.

Zelimkhan Musayev, a deputy minister in Chechnya's government, told Reuters in the capital Grozny: "Budanov is Russia's shame and mars the dignity of Russian officers".

He added: "I believe, for Chechens, it would still be better if he were at large -- to take the law into their hands and treat him in line with the local law, according to which two blood foes must be killed for one murdered woman."

During his trial, Budanov said he had killed Kungayeva in a fit of rage during an interrogation he was conducting on suspicion that she was a rebel sniper. Her family said she was raped and murdered in a drunken rampage.

Rights groups have accused Russian troops of arbitrary detentions and torture in Chechnya.

In 1999, Moscow sent troops to Chechnya to end short-lived independence it won in a conflict between 1994 and 1996. The pro-independent insurgency has largely been quelled, although there are still occasional gunfights.

Reuters
Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2009, 09:16
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