Chechen court hands down prison sentence to Russian asylum seeker deported from France
On June 9, a court in Russia’s Chechnya sentenced Magomed Gadayev — a Chechen asylum seeker who the French authorities sent back to Russia in April — to 1.5 years in an open prison, reported the BBC Russian Service.
Gadayev was found guilty of arms trafficking. His alleged cache of weapons was discovered on the same day he was deported from France. Prior to his extradition, Gadayev hadn’t returned to Russia since he fled Chechnya in 2010.
As the Russian BBC notes, the relatively lenient sentence came as a surprise to human rights activists. After Gadayev declined legal representation in April, presumably due to pressure from the security forces, his family feared for his life.
An acquaintance of Magomed Gadayev, who asked not to be named, told the BBC that the court ruling was influenced by the resonance of the case and the massive support for Gadayev.
Magomed Gadayev fled to Europe in 2010, after spending five months in custody in an unofficial prison in Chechnya, where he was subjected to torture. Gadayev later became a witness in a separate criminal case against Chechen security forces officers, who were accused of torture and abuse of power in connection with the 2009 kidnapping of a Grozny resident. Gadayev’s testimony included allegations of torture, intimidation, and even murder. After fleeing Russia, Gadayev initially sought asylum in Poland, but later moved to France.
In October 2020, Gadayev was arrested in France and sent to a detention facility for migrants, after the French authorities began paying increased attention to people from the Caucasus in the aftermath of the murder of history teacher Samuel Paty. A French court ruled against extraditing Gadayev to Russia, after his lawyer successfully argued that he could face danger there. Nevertheless, French police decided to deport him, citing an order from the head of the Interior Ministry. Before his departure from Paris, Gadayev stabbed himself in the stomach to protest his deportation.