A Chechen asylum seeker fleeing torture who was deported from France has been jailed in his native Russian republic of Chechnya, Russian media reported Wednesday.
Magomed Gadayev was sent back in April, despite a French court overturning his deportation order, amid a wave of expulsions following the gruesome beheading of a French teacher by an ethnic Chechen last fall. Rights groups have warned that Gadayev was at risk of torture if he returned to Russia more than a decade after his escape.
A Chechen district court found Gadayev guilty of weapons possession and sentenced him to one and a half years in a penal colony, according to BBC’s Russian service.
The outlet reported that Chechen security forces found a “cache of weapons on the very day when France put the Chechen on a plane to Sheremetyevo” Airport.
Gadayev’s wife told BBC Russia that the speedy trial was held with only his sisters and a court-appointed lawyer in attendance, and without the human rights activists who have followed his case.
An unnamed acquaintance said Gadayev received a more lenient sentence due to public attention toward his case.
Gadayev, a key witness in a rare Russian criminal case into Chechen police torture, fled Russia in 2010 after Chechen riot officers kidnapped and tortured him for five months. He was reported to have cut open his own stomach at a French deportation facility to protest his expulsion.
Human Rights Watch has said that Gadayev had been threatened, surveilled and ultimately kidnapped from a northern Russian town where his relatives live.
Chechens in France are the diaspora’s largest community in Europe at around 67,000 people who live mostly in Paris and the country’s south.
Many Chechens moved there as political refugees in the early 2000s, fleeing from two successive wars between Islamic separatists and Russian forces in the North Caucasus republic.
Recent years have seen another wave of migration from the region out of opposition to Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin leader whom activists accuse of sanctioning torture, extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.