Orkhan Djemal in radio studio. Screenshot from air broadcasting of the 'Echo of Moscow' radio station, https://youtu.be/22T4tM_fOBY

04 August 2018, 08:24

Experts criticize Russian MFA's version of Djemal's murder

Employees of private and public organizations specializing in making inquiries have pointed to discrepancies of the data released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) about traces of torture on journalists' bodies, and about the security of the area where Orkhan Djemal and his colleagues were killed.

On July 31, it became known that Russian journalists Orkhan Djemal, Alexander Rastorguev, and Kirill Radchenko were killed in the CAR while working on a documentary film about the private military company "Wagner".

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on August 2, the media minister of the Central African Republic (CAR) said that Orkhan Djemal and his colleagues failed to observe security requirements by travelling at night to the rebel-controlled area, and resisting the attackers.

However today, Lewis Madj, a senior researcher of the African department of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), who specializes on the CAR, has treated the road, followed by the journalists, as "relatively safe." "I was in Sibut just six weeks ago, in the very zone where they were killed. At the HRW, we take security very seriously, but the road they drove on is not regarded as so-called 'red'," he said in an interview posted on the "Echo Moskvy" website today.

On August 2, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of the Russian MFA, said that local doctors found no traces of torture on the journalists' bodies.

The edition named Polygraph.info, which verifies the authenticity of the spread information, has sent photos of the killed journalists to experts who on condition of anonymity expressed the opinion that Zakharova's statement that there were no signs of torture on the journalists' bodies is perceived with scepticism. "A close look at the bodies makes the Russian version of the nature of injuries very suspicious," Robert Schaefer, a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Army Special Forces, told the above edition.

According to Mr Schaefer, one of the casualties "has blue lips – a sign of lung collapse or too much fluid in the chest due to the blunt trauma, which a pipe blow gives." "The [other casualty] has too much blood on his shirt that looks like it was draining from the side of his head or neck," Robert Schaefer has stated, noting that the blood splashes on the bodies "do not match the usual gunshot wounds."

On August 1, the independent Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) put forward a version that the journalists killed in the CAR were going to study the links of Russian mercenaries with anti-government groupings. "These alleged links are contrary to Russia's official position, which is to support the CAR's central government," says the investigation, posted in the CIT's account on the Facebook.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 3, 2018 at 09:04 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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