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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Budanov to Undergo 5th Test

Itar-TassColonel Yury Budanov attending his first trial in the Rostov-on-Don court last year.
ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia -- A military court on Monday ordered Colonel Yury Budanov to undergo another psychological examination, saying that four previous tests failed to adequately determine whether he was insane when he killed a young Chechen woman.

Judge Vladimir Bukreyev, who is retrying Budanov, said he wanted a new set of experts to examine the soldier.

Bukreyev initially said he would rule Friday on who would conduct the exam and where it would take place. But later, Bukreyev agreed to adjourn the trial for two weeks to allow Budanov, who has complained of deteriorating health problems, to be examined immediately by a neurosurgeon.

Budanov's lawyer, Alexei Dulimov, was also hospitalized with heart problems Monday.

Budanov has admitted killing 18-year-old Elza Kungayeva in March 2000, but says he suspected her of being a rebel sniper and acted in a fit of rage. Kungayeva's family said she was dragged from her home, raped and murdered during a drunken rampage by soldiers.

Key to Budanov's trial is his mental state at the time. A finding of temporary insanity could lead to an acquittal or a light sentence.

In his first trial, the North Caucasus Military District Court ordered four evaluations of Budanov's mental health. The first team ruled he was sane, the second ruling was never made public, and the last two concluded that he was temporarily insane at the time of the murder.

The court in December, basing its decision on the latter examinations conducted at Moscow's Serbsky Center for Forensic Psychiatry, ruled that Budanov was temporarily insane and therefore not criminally responsible. But the Supreme Court overturned that decision in February and ordered a new trial at the same court.

Abdulla Khamzayev, the lawyer for Kungayeva's family, requested that medical experts in St. Petersburg conduct the new psychological examination.

Bukreyev said he had not yet decided where, and invited lawyers for all sides to submit the names of possible experts.

Budanov has already been ordered to undergo a complete medical examination to determine if he had any physical injuries that might have affected his mental health.

Meanwhile, Bukreyev also ordered the Defense Ministry's experts to review the results of old tests to determine if Budanov was drunk at the time of the killing. A preliminary analysis, read aloud in court on Thursday, concluded that the officer was slightly drunk on the night that Kungayeva died.

The case against Budanov is seen as a bellwether for Russia's willingness to crack down on military abuses in Chechnya, but now in its third year, it has also turned into an example of the convoluted, inefficient legal system.