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Acquitted Daghestani police chief awarded compensation and public apology

28 November 2019
Askhabali Zairbekov is released. Photo: Kommersant.

On 26 November, a military court in Rostov-on-Don ruled that Askhabali Zairbekov receive compensation of ₽9.5 million ($150,000) and a public apology from the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian republic of Daghestan. The former police chief of the Kizilyurt District in central Daghestan had been charged and acquitted of armed robbery.

Zairbekov was arrested in February 2014 in relation to a series of road-side armed robberies in Daghestan. He was acquitted in September 2016. 

Zairbekov’s lawyer, Akhmed Suleymanov, told OC Media that Zairbekov filed a lawsuit in September for the salary he lost from the date of his arrest until his aquittal. Additionally, according to Suleymanov, he requested reimbursement of legal expenses as well as airfare to and from Rostov-on-Don, where his hearings were held.

Suleymanov said that Zairbekov asked the court to require the Daghestani Prosecutor’s Office to make an official apology and to publish this apology together with information about his innocence and official rehabilitation in the Chernovik, Novoye Delo, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspapers.

Suleymanov said that the court satisfied all of Zairbekov’s requests. The compensation, according to the calculations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Daghestan, amounted to ₽7.8 million ($120,000), while the reimbursement of legal expenses was ₽1.7 million ($25,000).

Representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office and Daghestan’s treasury plan to appeal this decision, arguing that the amount is too high.

‘Armed Gang’

Zairbekov was dismissed from his position as chief of police of the Kizilyurt District in October 2013, during an investigation against three of his subordinates, Magomed Pirayev, Gaziyav Dzhamaludinov, and Makhmud Khaybulayev.

In May 2012, the three police officers allegedly formed a gang that organised armed robberies of Daghestani residents who were transporting cash from the Russian-Azerbaijani border to Daghestan’s capital, Makhachkala. 

The gang allegedly stole a total of ₽100 million ($1.5 million).

The members of the gang were identified during an investigation into two separate robberies.

In the first robbery, in August 2008, five to six armed men wearing military fatigues and masks stopped a car in Kaspiysk, a city 18 kilometers from Makhachkala, stealing ₽1.3 million ($2,300) and a hunting rifle from the driver.

The second robbery occurred in February 2013 near the village of Kullar in south Daghestan’s Derbent District. Six armed masked men in military fatigues stopped a car and, having seized more than ₽35 million ($550,000) from the driver, disappeared.

Initial arrests in the case were made when the victims identified one of the robbers as Magomed Pirayev.

Zairbekov was arrested in connection with the robberies in 2014.

According to Akhmed Suleymanov, after a criminal case was opened against Zairbekov, he turned to the Prosecutor of Daghestan and accused the investigators of torturing his former associates to force them into testifying against him.

On 15 September 2016, a military court in Rostov-on-Don acquitted Zairbekov and released him from custody with the right to be rehabilitated. 

The remaining defendants in this case were found guilty and received sentences of 11–15 years in prison.