- part 2 of Art. 163 of the Russian Criminal Code (extorsion committed by a groupe of persons)
May 23, 2017
3 years of suspended sentence with 3 years of probation
days in custody
On 23 November 2017, Russian security forces arrested 57-year-old Bekir Dehermendzhy in the “Medobory” cafe, in the city of Simferopol. He was there to meet with Asan Chapukh, Kyazim Ametov and 83-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement Vedzhie Kashka. She suffered from a heart attack during the security forces operation and died shortly after in an ambulance. The Crimean occupation authorities refused to prosecute those responsible for Vedzhie Kashka’s death.
Searches were also carried out in the village of Grushevka where Kyazim Ametov lives, near Bekir Dehermendzhy’s house. Three other Crimean Tatars were also arrested on the same day: Ruslan Trubach together with brothers Kurtseit and Eldar Abdullaev.
The Abdullaev brothers were released few hours later. However, Kyazim Ametov, Asan Chapukh, Bekir Dehermendzhy and Ruslan Trubach were put in pre-trial detention, being accused of having allegedly extorted large sums of money from a Turkish citizen, Yusuf Aytan.
Bekir Dehermendzhy, a father of two children, arrived in Crimea in 1989 and settled in the village of Grushevka with his wife. His son, Mustafa Dehermendzhy, was arrested in May 2015 and placed in pre-trial detention as part of the “26 February case.” In April 2017, the court replaced his preventive detention with house arrest. In April 2019 the de facto court sentenced Bekir Dehermendzhy to 3 years of suspended imprisonment and 3 years of probation period.
Nariman Dzhelyal, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar community, refutes the version presented by the Russian security forces, explaining that:
“Turkish citizen Yusuf Aytan is a crook, he abused the trust of one famous Crimean Tatar family [that of Vedzhie Kashka] and stole a large amount of money from her. The activists who are being detained knew about this family’s problem and tried to persuade the Turk to give the money back.”
Zair Smedlyaev, head of the Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar People, also considers the arrests of the four politically motivated and an attempt to silence them as well as to discredit the Medzhlis by engaging criminal procedures against its alleged members. Bekir, father of Mustafa Dehermendzhy who was arrested within the “26 February” case in May 2015, took part in various events abroad (in Brussels, at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, at the Organization for Security and co-operation in Europe) to denounce the situation in Russian occupied Crimea.
Bekir Dehermendzhy suffers from bronchial asthma and diabetes. In December 2017 during a court hearing, an ambulance was called after Mr. Dehermendzhy started to feel unwell. Despite the doctors’ advice, the court made Bekir stay in the room in an oxygen mask. The state of his health deteriorated a few days later while the penitentiary administration refused to transfer him to a local hospital as requested by his lawyer and his relatives. On 14 December 2017, he was finally transported to a local intensive care unit, after having fallen unconscious. He was in the critical health state with pulmonary edema. During the first three days following the hospitalization he was in the medical coma. On December 20, the wife of Bekir Dehermendzhy told that her husband was transferred from intensive care to the hospital. He was sent back to the pre-trial detention centre beginning of January 2018 regardless of the caution from doctors.
There has been no report of direct torture inflicted by the law enforcement representatives on Bekir Dehermendzhy. However, keeping him in pre-trial detention despite his poor health condition and a lack of adequate medical treatment puts his life at risk. Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov has indeed compared the living conditions in the pre-trial detention facility to a form of torture:
“We consider pre-trial detention a certain type of pressure exercised on our clients rather than a safeguard against their possible escape. They won’t be able to escape nor to influence anyone under house arrest. But keeping them in the pre-trial detention facility has a fundamentally different aim as it is a terrible overcrowded place infested with fleas, lice, bedbugs. A place where is cold, that lacks water and where all diseases aggravate. All this can account to torture.”