World News

Court in Chechnya orders rights activist detained for two months: Ifax

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A court in Chechnya ordered Oyub Titiev, a prominent human rights activist, to be detained for two months on drugs charges on Thursday, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Titiev’s lawyer.

Police in the republic on Tuesday detained Oyub Titiev, who runs the office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya, saying they had found cannabis in his car after stopping him to check his documents.

Titiev, who says the drugs were planted, faces a jail term of up to 10 years if found guilty.

The United States and the European Union have called on Russia to release Titiev and his colleagues say they believe he was framed to end his criticism of local authorities.

Police charged Titiev with illegally possessing at least 206.9 grams (7.3 oz) of cannabis for his personal use late on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Chechnya’s Shali City Court satisfied a request from investigators and ordered him to be detained for two months, Interfax cited his lawyer, Piotr Zaikin, as saying.

Titiev, 60, leads a team that has reported disappearances, torture, and punitive house burnings in the majority-Muslim republic. His predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was kidnapped and shot dead in 2009. Nobody has been convicted for her murder.

Zaikin was cited as saying that Titiev would appeal against the court’s decision on Friday.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin