MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – During pleadings in a South Russian court, prosecutors requested that North Caucasus militant warlord Ali Taziyev be jailed for 25 years instead of life sentence, Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.
Taziyev, a former police officer, allegedly switched sides and joined North Caucasus militants to become one of the top leaders of the Imarat Kavkaz militant group and second in command in that organization after terrorist leader Doku Umarov.
He is charged with setting up an armed militant group, illegal arms trafficking, terrorism, inciting a rebellion and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Charges against him also include 24 counts of terrorism.
Kommersant said that shortly after his arrest in 2010, Taziyev started to actively cooperate with investigators. According to the paper, information obtained from him helped law-enforcement officers to conduct a series of successful operations against North Caucasus militants and solve numerous crimes.
Taziyev, also known by his alias Magas, pleaded not guilty to almost all charges laid against him, a court spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The defendant pleaded not guilty to almost all charges laid against him. The sentence will be announced on October 15, at 10:00 Moscow time,” the spokesman said.
The trial, which is to feature evidence from more than 600 victims and over 400 eyewitnesses, began amid tough security measures at the Rostov-on-Don military court on May 13.
Shortly after Taziyev’s arrest, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov described him as a “leader of the criminal underground,” responsible for hundreds of deaths in Ingushetia, including an attack by militants on police and government offices in Nazran in 2004 that killed 79 people.
The list of other crimes he is suspected of includes the bombing of a bus in the town of Nevinnomyssk in December 2007, the bombing of a police station in the Nazran district of Ingushetia in August 2009, and an attempt to assassinate Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in June 2009.
In a 2004 article, The Moscow Times mentions Taziyev among police and security officers who greatly enhanced the destructive capabilities of North Caucasus militants by joining or assisting them.
Prosecutors believe that Taziyev joined North Caucasus militants at his own initiative in 1999 after being kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in fall 1998. Prior to that, he was a sergeant employed at the Ingush police’s Extradepartmental Protection department, providing private security services on a contractual basis.