The Topography of Abductions in The North Caucasus
On the 1st of January, 2001, Zelemkhan Murdalov was abducted by military officials and taken to the Khanta-Mantiyski VOVD located in the Okyabryrski District, Grozny. At the time the unit was under the command of Lt. Sergi Lapin. Immediately after the abduction, Zelemhkan's father Astemir Murdalov began pushing for an investigation.
Astemir's continued efforts created enough publicity to force a reaction from Moscow. Fearing prosecution, Lt. Lapin attempted escape but was apprehended and brought back to Chechnya for a trial. Witnesses who agreed to testify claimed that Lt. Lapin spent nearly 24 hours in a room with Zelemhkan. Eye-witness testimony also confirmed that on the 2nd of January, Zelemkhan was seen unconscious and barely breathing. His jaw was clamped shut, his eyes were rolled back into his head, both of his hands had open wounds, and one was broken. The doctor who saw Zelemkhan in his cell testified that he had, at the time, notified Lt. Lapin that Zelemkhan would die without immediate surgery. Nevertheless, nothing was done and Zelemkhan remained in this condition in his cell until the early morning of the 3rd of January, when Lt. Lapin arrived with several of his subordinates and dragged Zelemkhan out of the cell.
Following the trial, Lt. Lapin was convicted for acting outside of authority and sentenced to nine years in a labor camp. The body of Zelemkhan remains missing.