17 July 2009, 20:30

Criminals killed Estemirova, having suspected a militia raid, investigation believes

The Investigatory Committee at the Prosecutor's Office (ICPO) of the Russian Federation has restored the picture of the murder of the employee of the HRC "Memorial" in Chechnya Natalia Estemirova. Under inspectors' preliminary conclusions, the kidnappers initially were not going to kill the human rights activist, but had to do it, probably, having come across a road blockade. They could take the operative group that worked on the road for a round-up mission against them.

According to updated information, at 7:30 a.m., the human rights activist was coming to a bus stop, a VAZ-2107 car stopped nearby. The persons who jumped out of it dragged Estemirova into the car and disappeared at a high speed. The witnesses of the incident did not call militia, having decided that the woman was detained by some local power agents. The alarm was raised some hours later by employees of the "Memorial", when she did not appear at work and they could not get her by her mobile phone. The Chechnya's MIA (Ministry of Internal Affairs) started searching her only in the middle of the day; and at about 5 p.m. the telephone message with description of the car and kidnapped Natalia Estemirova was received by the MIA of the neighbouring Ingushetia; however, she was already dead for a long time. Forensic medical experts have concluded that she was shot dead somewhat between 9 and 10 a.m., the "Kommersant" writes.

Having defined the time of her death and examined the place of the incident, inspectors have concluded that initially the kidnappers were not going to kill Estemirova. The tragic outcome was probably provoked by another crime. On Tuesday, at 8:45 a.m., at the same "Kavkaz" Highway, in the vicinity of Gazi-Yurt, a "Lada-Priora" car was shelled from sub-machine guns. Employees of the court marshal service Bekkhan Evloev and Ahmed Evloev, and also Toma Evloeva, an employee of the Ministry of Economy of Ingushetia, were in the car. Bekkhan Evloev was killed, others were wounded. Some minutes later, patrol units were already in the place of the incident, and the highway was blocked.

According to preliminary conclusions of the investigation, kidnappers of Natalia Estemirova, who were driving along the same highway, saw militia cars with beacon lights on and the jam on the road and decided that it was a round-up against them. Some 500 meters before the jam, they drove off the "Kavkaz" Highway to a country road, where they executed their victim.

Inspectors believe that to be safeguarded against road checks, the culprits made use of a special coupon, which forbids examining cars. Anyway, they freely passed through at least five check posts.

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