Saturday, August 12, 2017

Why was this Russian case tried in a military court?

An imam has been convicted by a Russian military court on the basis of a sermon he gave, according to this Eurasianet report. Excerpt:
Magomednabi Magomedov, a Salafist imam, received a five-year prison term from a military court for giving an allegedly unlawful sermon in 2016 in Dagestan. To help with the prosecution, authorities turned to an expert in content analysis, a method of examining texts and speeches for patterns of explicit or implicit meanings. The expert’s findings played a key role in convicting the imam on a charge of attempting to incite terrorism. 
The problem was that Magomedov’s sermon did not advocate terrorism, but rather stressed the duty of Muslims to peacefully resist the closure of Salafist mosques and other encroachments on religious freedom in Russia. Magomedov’s trial thus highlights the hazards of trying to quantify criminal intent. 
Magomedov was the imam at the Vostochnaya Mosque in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt. His outspokenness earned him powerful enemies in the local administration, and he was sentenced in the fall of last year. In early 2017, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction, but reduced his sentence by six months.
Human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavors the trial of civilians by military courts.

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