28 August 2003, 22:46

Group of public figures and human rights activists has spoken in defense of former head of Mozdok hospital Artur Arakelyan

A group of human rights activists and public figures sent yesterday a public appeal to Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Victor Ustinov concerning the change of the penalty for Lieutenant Colonel Artur Arakelyan, a former head of the military hospital in Mozdok (North Osetia) which was detonated by a kamikaze terrorist.

Here are some extracts from this document:

"In the connection with the terrorist act in Mozdok, the head of the hospital Lieutenant Colonel Artur Arakelyan was charged of "criminal negligence that caused grave consequences" and "non-execution of the order". On August 7 the lieutenant colonel was taken into custody, the following day a court sanctioned the custody of Artur Arakelyan during the investigation.

Despite numerous requests of the doctors and staff of the Mozdok Military Hospital to change the penalty for their head, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov declared that Arakelyan was a lieutenant-general in the first place and a doctor in the second."

"We cannot agree with the Minister of Defense - a doctor is a doctor in the first instance. No doubt, the organization of a military hospital requires specific knowledge. But its protection should be maintained by professionals in this sphere. A doctor who had taken on the responsibilities of the hospital head three weeks before the explosion can not be responsible for what happened".

"We also assume there is no ground to expect that in case of the penalty change Lieutenant Colonel Arakelyan will escape or hinder the investigation.

In the view of the reasons mentioned, we appeal for the change of the penalty for Lieutenant Colonel Artur Arakelyan for a one that will not be connected with custody".

The appeal was signed by several tens of public figures. It is open for subscription.

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