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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Appeal the Verdict Against Budanov

Prosecutors have appealed the verdict against Colonel Yury Budanov, who was found mentally ill and not criminally responsible in the killing of an 18-year-old Chechen woman, the chief military prosecutor said Friday. A lawyer for the victim's family has protested the decision.

State prosecutor Alexander Derbenyov wants an annulment of the verdict and new court hearings for Budanov, who admitted killing Elza Kungayeva in Chechnya in 2000, chief military prosecutor Alexander Savenkov said.

Derbenyov has urged the court to find Budanov guilty of all charges against him, sentence him to 12 years in prison, strip him of his military rank honors and bar him from holding official posts for three years, Savenkov said.

Budanov, the first military officer to face trial for abuses in Chechnya, was ordered confined to a psychiatric hospital in the Dec. 31 decision by the North Caucasus Military District Court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. A court official said Friday that he was still being held in jail and might remain there until all appeals and complaints are considered.

Budanov said he strangled Kungayeva because he suspected her of being a rebel sniper who had killed some of his comrades. He said he acted in a fit of rage during her interrogation. Kungayeva's family says she was dragged from her home at night, raped and murdered during a drunken rampage by soldiers.

According to Budanov's lawyer, Anatoly Mukhin, a lawyer for Kungayeva's family filed a complaint earlier in the week protesting the insanity ruling. He said the lawyer, Abdulla Khamzayev, wants a new trial with a different panel of judges.

Budanov's trial was widely regarded as a signal of whether the military would clamp down on abuses, which have alienated even Chechens who do not support the separatists and undermined the Kremlin's efforts to build trust in Chechnya.

Savenkov said that since the latest war began in 1999, 46 servicemen have been convicted of abuses, including six officers, and that 11 of the defendants were convicted of murder.