RUSSIANS CASE MAY FALL APART

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MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - If the Qatar court withdraws from the Russians' case all evidence received by illegal means, the case will go to pieces, Dmitry Afanasyev, a lawyer who defends the Russians accused of murdering Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former leader of Chechen separatists, said at a Thursday press conference in Moscow.

Afanasyev said that in connection with the absence in the case materials of any convincing proofs of guilt of the Russian nationals, accusations against whom are based on their own confessions. However, in accordance with Qatar's laws and the norms of international law, which prohibit tortures, proofs received through tortures cannot be presented in a criminal case, he stressed.

"In line with the New York Convention, confessions received through tortures cannot be used in court," said the lawyer.

Besides, in his words, part of the so-called material evidence was received during a search of the diplomatic mission, which is prohibited by the Vienna Convention, which also extends to Qatar.

"If Qatar court displays objectivity, then evidence received illegally must be withdrawn," Mr. Afanasyev said.

"If this is done, the case is gone," he added.

Russian lawyers did not see during the first stage of trial of the Russian nationals detained in Qatar any convincing evidence of their guilt, the lawyer said.

The capture of Russians in Qatar was illegal, Dmitry Afanasyev said.

He stressed Russian citizens were seized on the territory of a diplomatic residence, which, in line with international law norms, is illegal.

"The capture of Russians on the territory of a diplomatic residence violates the Vienna Convention, which extends to Qatar too and which envisages the inviolability of a diplomatic residence, and consecutively does not allow detention of anybody on the territory of a diplomatic residence regardless of whether these people are diplomats or not," Mr. Afanasyev said.

He said that in line with international law, this means that Qatar authorities have to pass the detainees to the Russian Federation.

The lawyer also said Qatar court has an opportunity to correct the defense's position. In his words, the system of the legal procedure envisages that the questions and answers of the lawyers and detainees are passed orally through the judge.

"This is actively used by the court president in the interests of the prosecution," Afanasyev said. Besides, in his words, there appear tragicomical situations with the translation of questions and answers from English into Arab.

The Qatar side is much concerned about the defense's position in regard to violations of the Vienna Convention and is trying to evade this issue by all possible means, Afanasyev said.

The prosecution's position is that the defendants were seen near a mosque where an explosion took place, and not at the moment of the explosion or several minutes before, but several hours before the explosion, said Afanasyev.

He said that the first stage of defense, when the prosecution presented its proofs and witnesses, is over. He apologized to Russian journalists for restrictions on the information on the case.

"Protection of lawyer's secret is important for the defendants," he said.

Early on February 19, Qatar special services arrested in Doha three Russian nationals who were in Qatar on a mission. They were accused of involvement in the murder of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev who died in a car bombing February 13 in Doha. One of the detainees, first secretary of the Russian embassy in Qatar, Alexander Fetisov was released thanks to his diplomatic immunity and returned home on March 24.

The two other Russians - special service officers - were in Qatar on an official mission.

A preliminary court session took place April 11. At the session, the Russians pleaded not guilty. On Thursday, the trial on the Russians case in Qatar was adjourned until May 2.

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