Court in Crimea sentences three Crimean Tatar men to 13 to 17 years behind bars on ‘sabotage’ charges for damaging gas pipeline

The Supreme Court of Crimea has issued a verdict to Nariman Celâl, deputy chairman of the governing assembly (the Majlis) of the Crimean Tatar people, as well as brothers Asan and Aziz Akhmetov, in the “sabotage” case over the damage of a gas pipeline in the settlement of Perevalne, Graty news outlet reports.

Celâl was sentenced to 17 years behind bars and a 700,000-ruble (€11,600) fine. Asan Akhtemov was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 500,000-ruble (€8,170) fine, while Aziz Akhtemov received a 13-year sentence and a 500,000-ruble fine. The court also ruled that the men would be put on probation after they served their sentences: 18 months for Celâl and a year each for the Akhtemov brothers.

Nariman Celâl. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nariman Celâl. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Crimean Tatar politician and the Akhtemov brothers were charged with carrying out an act of sabotage within an organised group and with illegal possession of explosive substances within an organised group.

The Russian police reported that a gas pipeline had been damaged in the settlement of Perevalne on 23 August of last year. The pipeline resumed operations on the next day. After that, Celâl and the Akhmetov brothers were detained and sent to the pre-trial detention centre. All three men pled not guilty and said they were being persecuted for their activism. Celâl said that the criminal charges against him may be related to his participation in the Crimea Platform, a diplomatic initiative of Ukraine aimed to reverse the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

After the arrest, attorney Emine Avamileva told Graty that Celâl was tortured. “All this time, he was cuffed and had a bag over his head. With no food or water. He had no idea where he was, but he understood it was a basement of some sort,” Avamileva said. Meanwhile, Asan Akhtemov said that the law enforcement had tortured him with electric shocks. This is how they got him to admit guilt on camera, a statement that he later revoked, the man stated.

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