Russian extradition request refused: Chechen man wins 3-year legal battle

A Chechen man, AZ, represented by Malcolm Hawkes has won his appeal against extradition to Russia, where he is wanted to stand trial for murder. It was alleged that during the second Chechnya conflict in 2001, he forced a woman to take revenge on a man who had raped her and supplied her with the gun she then used to kill him.


The Appellant initially left Russia for Belgium where his extradition was ordered in 2011. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the Belgian court’s decision to extradite him and dismissed his account of being at risk in Russia due to his combatant past.


The Appellant fled Belgium for the UK where he was arrested and subject to fresh extradition proceedings. His account of having been a fighter in the Chechnya conflicts and tortured was rejected. However, on appeal the Appellant adduced fresh evidence which seriously undermined the reasoning of both the Strasbourg and Westminster courts.


First, the prosecution witness statements were disclosed which confirmed that the Appellant was indeed a combatant which would adversely affect the fairness of his trial. Second, the co-accused insisted that she had been tortured to name the Appellant as her accomplice, there was no other evidence capable of supporting a conviction. And third, the evidence the Appellant would be tried by jury was found to be incorrect; he would stand trial by a single judge. The acquittal rate of single-judge trials in Russia is less than 1%, but in Chechnya itself it is zero.


The Divisional Court remitted the case back to the Westminster Magistrates Court to determine whether the Appellant’s extradition would be compatible with his Article 3 and 6 rights.


Following a two-day hearing, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot found that there was a real risk the Appellant would suffer a flagrant breach of the right to a fair trial, contrary to Article 6 of the Convention and refused the extradition request.


In Zarmaev v Russia, Malcolm was instructed by Kate Goold of Bindmans Solicitors.