Central Asian defendants accuse Russian authorities of torture

Caravanserai

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Several suspects being tried in connection with an April 2017 subway bombing in St. Petersburg, Russia, have alleged that Russian authorities tortured them, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Wednesday (April 3).

The suicide bomber who killed 15 passengers was Akbarjon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbek native of Kyrgyzstan, say authorities. Eleven suspects accused of being his accomplices went on trial Tuesday (April 2).

Russian authorities allegedly tortured four of the 11 suspects. Mukhmadyusup Ermatov said he endured electric shocks and was taken to a "secret prison" of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said Russian rights activist Yana Teplitskaya.

Authorities arrested Ermatov in April 2017 but held him in the secret facility for more than a month before disclosing his arrest, she said.

Police kept a sack over Ermatov's head, beat him, and deprived him of food and water, added Teplitskaya.

His brother Ibragimjon was tortured as well, Ermatov has said.

Two brothers, Abror and Akram Azimov, who are also defendants, earlier complained of torture after their arrests.

All 11 defendants are natives of former Soviet republics in Central Asia. They all pleaded innocent Tuesday.

Russian authorities had no immediate comment.

Torture by law enforcement personnel is widespread in Russia, say rights activists and Western governments. Central Asian migrants in Russia have frequently complained of harassment and other abuses by the authorities.

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