Criminal case against imam charged with justifying terrorism transferred to court
MOSCOW, March 22 (RAPSI) – The criminal case against Moscow imam Makhmud Velitov, who stands charged with justifying terrorism, has been transferred to the Moscow District Military Court, RAPSI learnt on Wednesday from lawyer Dagir Khasavov.
Khasavov told RAPSI that he was going to call high-ranking religious figures of Islam as witnesses in this case and to conduct an additional complex psychological-linguistic expertise. He added that none of the books seized from Yardam mosque and the imam’s home contained any sign of extremism.
Investigators have reclassified charges against Velitov from “public justifying terrorism with the use of mass media” to “public calls to terrorist activity or justifying terrorism.” His house arrest has been therefore replaced with travel restrictions, the lawyer said.
On September 23, 2013, Velitov, being a council chair and imam of a religious organization, made a public speech justifying activity of one of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami terrorist organization’s members during a prayer in a Moscow mosque, according to the Investigative Committee. This organization has been banned by Russia’s Supreme Court.
“As follows from the conclusion of a forensic examination, the imam’s speech contained a set of psychological and linguistic features of justifying terrorist activities,” investigators said earlier.
According to defense, Velitov performed a religious ritual allowed by canons of Islam regarding a deceased Muslim.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Islamic Liberation), founded in Jerusalem in 1953, is banned in several Arab and Central Asian countries. Russia's Supreme Court banned the group from operating on the territory of the country in 2003, describing it as a terrorist organization.
Hizb ut-Tahrir members are regularly arrested by the police across Russia, mainly in big cities in central Russia, the Volga region and Siberia. Also, there are many supporters in Crimea, which rejoined Russia last spring.