Kremlin-backed mercenary soldiers who worked for the Wagner Group could be tested in the Russian courts for the very first time after an all-star team of human rights lawyers filed a case in Moscow accusing the militants of the torture and beheading of a man in Syria.
In a legal criminal complaint announced Monday on behalf of the victim, Muhammad “Hamdi Bouta” Taha al-Abdullah, attorneys representing the victim’s brother allege that six Russian citizens who worked on contract to secure a Russian-Syrian operated gas plant were behind the 2017 killing. The lawsuit marks the first known attempt to bring to account anyone linked to the highly secretive network of covert operators financed and managed by close inner-circle associates of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Opponents of the dark money paramilitary outfit hope an attack through the courts—which they expect to take all the way to European Court of Human Rights—will expose the scale of the abuses carried out by the shadowy forces used to conceal the Kremlin’s off-the-books military adventures all over the world. After more than a year of government stonewalling and dodging allegations about the case, advocates for the victim say, Russian authorities will now be forced to go on record no matter what.