In a news article that is hardly news - I can't imagine there was any chance for a different verdict - Nurpashi Kulayev was found guilty by the Supreme Court in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetian capital) on charges of terrorism, hostage taking, and murder. The prosecutor's office is pushing for the death penalty for the former Chechen carpenter in this case. As stated in the article and elsewhere, Kulayev is thought to be the sole surviving captor from the Beslan tragedy.
Although officially Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, I would hardly be surprised if an exception was made in the Kulayev case. You have to know that you really are in big trouble when Amnesty International washes their hands of you:
"Formally, Russia has the death penalty, the judge has the right to impose it. He could use this option, if he wants to show how tough our laws are," said Sergei Nikitin, director of rights group Amnesty International's Moscow office.Sergei Nikitin certainly doesn't sound like a bleeding heart in these quotes, does he? I suspect the Russian government may waive the moratorium and no one will complain. Many of the Beslan victims families continue to blame the Russian government for their own role in the tragedy. The sooner they put Nurpashi Kulayev under the knife, the quicker Russians might forget the governments own faults in the outcome of the Beslan tragedy.
"But we have a moratorium, so it will not actually be conducted by the court. Then again, we all know the stories about what happens to imprisoned Chechen fighters who suddenly "get ill" and die in prison."
An official probe into the tragedy said negligence and incompetence had contributed to the disaster, which was sparked by two unexplained explosions, although it disappointed survivors by failing to name names.
Three policeman went on trial for criminal negligence in March, but survivors' activists say higher officials were passing the buck, and should be made to answer for the disaster.
They have followed Kulayev's trial closely, hoping it will provide details they say were missing from the probes into the unfolding of the tragedy.
"There is hope that he will still tell the truth, and therefore we need him to live," said Ella Kesayeva, head of survivors' pressure group the Voice of Beslan, when asked whether she supported the death penalty for Kulayev.
"The prosecutor has not dug down to the truth, because they have only one motive -- to hide the facts of the security services' crimes ... It is not only the terrorists who are to blame in the Beslan tragedy, but also the Federal Security Service"
Other links regarding Kulayev, his trial, and Beslan:
Beslan Victims Talk to Kulayev
Below is a dialogue between Zarina Muzayev and Nurpashi Kulayev.
Zarina Muzayev: Why do you think Allah saved your life?
Nurpashi Kulayev: I didn't want to die there, that's why I escaped.
Z.M.: Are you glad you did?
N.K.: Now I am not. I'd better die.
Z.M.: Maybe, Allay gave you life, so you tell people the truth?
N.K.: I am telling everything I know. I'll answer any of your questions.
Z.M.: I understand you, you haven't done anything wrong. Trust me, our government will deceive you like it has deceived us. Tell me everything the way you'd tell a friend. Remember my face, my surname is Muzayev, and I swear you I will send all the money I have received to you children's account. I swear, just tell the truth.
N.K.: I won't lie, everything I know you will know. I cannot lie before Allah.
Z.M.: You said once that everyone who is really to blame is now watching all this on TV. Whom did you mean?
N.K.: Everyone knows whom I was talking about. They include the chief one, Basayev.
Whose to Blame for Beslan?
On his first day in court, the accused, a 24-year-old Chechen named Nurpashi Kulayev, was greeted by a crowd of vengeful mothers crammed onto wooden benches and clad in the black skirts and headscarves of mourners. "We'll kill you," the women screamed at Kulayev. "We'll tear you limb from limb."
Now the mothers have made a complete turnaround: They are calling for Kulayev's pardon. They believe that only with immunity can he speak freely. Their reasons are as complicated as the byzantine court proceedings themselves, but they boil down to this: The mothers want answers, and they believe Kulayev is one of the few people who can provide them. In their minds, it's not only militants like Kulayev who are responsible for the deaths of their children. Blame also rests with officials, they say, from the local police, who accepted bribes and let the militants pass checkpoints in the first place, all the way up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Give Us A Gun", Say Beslan Mothers
“Hand him over here and give us a gun,” one woman said.
“The women of Beslan want him for themselves. We’ll take him in our own hands and show him proper punishment,” Rita Sydakova, 44, said, wringing her hands. “We’ll give him what he deserves.”
Day 2 of the Verdict
Washington Post: Blame Assigned in Siege at Beslan
Russian Court Hears Tales of Beslan Horror
But some survivors said prosecutors had failed to pin any specific incidents on Kulayev, who - along with a handful of policemen charged with negligence - is the only person being tried in relation to the tragedy.
"No one has said they saw him kill anyone. If they wanted to do this, they should have just locked him up without this nine-month trial," said Ella Kesayeva, whose Voice of Beslan pressure group argues that the officials who failed to prevent the siege should also be brought to book.
Like many former hostages, she says the chaos that accompanied the siege and the bloodbath that ended it, point to a deep-rooted culture of incompetence among state officials.
"If the conclusion is that the only people to blame are Kulayev, the terrorists and a few policemen, then we will never find out the truth about how this happened. And then terrorist acts will repeat themselves," she said after the session ended.