2016-06-01 15:25:00

Suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir Crimean cell plead not guilty at trial

Rostov-on-Don, June 1, Interfax - Each of the four men charged with participation in a terrorist organization in Sevastopol, has pleaded not guilty, an Interfax correspondent reported from the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don on Wednesday.

"I disagree with the arguments from the prosecution; we are not dangerous criminals," Ruslan Zeitullayev, one of the prisoners in the dock, said at the trial.

The other three defendants supported him.

Lawyers for the defendants told the court that the bill of indictment did not give specific examples of illegal and violent actions, which could be defined as 'organizing and participating in the activity of a terrorist organization'.

The prosecutor believes it was Zeitullayev who organized a cell of the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization, banned in Russia, in the villages of Orlinoye, Tylovoye and Shturmovoye in the Balaklava District, and in the city of Sevastopol, in March 2014.

The final goal of the cell was 'Islamic rule' through the restoration of 'a global Islamic caliphate' and the creation of a Crimean vilayat (an administrative unit of the caliphate) in the place of Sevastopol.

Detectives said that Zeitullayev involved three acquaintances in the cell for spreading Hizb ut-Tahrir ideas, and recruiting new members into the organization. Later on, he demanded that they form their own cells of the banned organization.

The police said Zeitullayev was guilty of organizing a cell of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terrorist organization, and his three accomplices were guilty of participation in the cell.

All members of the cell were detained in January-April 2015.

The prosecutor will call on 23 witnesses and, possibly, five experts, at the trial.