Nurpasha Kulaev, a 30-year-old former contract laborer from the Chechen village of Engenoi, has been charged under nine articles of the Criminal Code of Russia, including murder, banditry, terrorism, and the taking of hostages. He admits to seven of these, but categorically denies the other two. As before, Kulaev denies his involvement in the murders. He insists that he was not involved in the murders either at the time of the occupation or during the storming of the school. “Yes, I had an automatic weapon. Yes, I fired it. But only into the air,” he asserted under questioning.
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During the investigation, the Chechen admitted to terrorism, banditry, and everything else, but he did not like it when the investigators also charged him under Article 166 of the Criminal code (Misappropriation of an automobile without intent to steal). As Kommersant has learned, the accused flew into a rage when the investigators tried to start a conversation about the circumstances around the theft of a GAZ-66 truck in which the terrorists arrived at the school. “I didn’t steal that 66,” shouted the accused. “I had no idea where we were going or why or in what. My brother [terrorist Khanpasha Kulaev, killed in the fight] said we had to seize some checkpoint. First he drove me to the woods near Psedakh [a village in Malgobek District of Ingushetia] and then pushed me into the back of the truck and said there was no going back. Can you really accuse a person of theft if he’s been driven in the back of a truck like a sheep?”
Kulaev is being held in relatively decent conditions, although in order to protect him from possible displays of public wrath, they constantly move him from one prison to another. But then they put him in with terrorists or field commanders.
A group of Chechen terrorists seized a Beslan school on September 1, 2004 setting off a terrifying three-day hostage crisis that ended with the deaths of about 330 victims, half of them young children, and almost all the attackers, except Kulaev.