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Moscow attack suspects appear beaten in court, raising questions of torture – National


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Four men accused of carrying out a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of over 130 people appeared in court in Moscow Sunday night as authorities continue to search for survivors and bodies in the now-ruined Crocus City Hall concert venue.

The tragedy is considered to be the deadliest terrorist attack on Russian soil in two decades.

Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, 32, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, 30, Shamsidin Fariduni, 25, and Mukhammadsobir Faizov, 19, have been charged with committing a terrorist attack resulting in the death of others. The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

This combination of pictures created on March 24, 2024 shows (Clockwise from top L) Rachabalizoda Saidakrami, Dalerdjon (alternatively spelled Dalerdzhon) Barotovich Mirzoyev, Muhammadsobir Fayzov and Shamsidin Fariduni.

Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP via Getty Images

The attack occurred Friday as crowds gathered to watch a performance by Russian rock band Picnic. According to video from the scene, several men raided the venue and opened fire on the crowd. At some point, a blaze — presumably set by the attackers — erupted in the concert hall and the roof of the building caved in.

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The Islamic State (ISIS) has since claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that the perpetrators used automatic rifles, a pistol, knives and firebombs to kill concertgoers.

Click to play video: 'Russians unite for day of mourning after Moscow attack'

Russians unite for day of mourning after Moscow attack

The four suspects were detained on Saturday by Russian forces, but when they appeared in court, international observers were shocked to see they appeared severely beaten with visible injuries. Russian media reported that the men were tortured during interrogation by security forces and unverified videos claiming to show said torture were spread on social media.

Two of the suspects pleaded guilty for participating in the attack, though the men’s condition raised questions about whether they were speaking freely.

The 30-year-old suspect, Rachabalizoda, appeared in court with a heavily-bandaged ear and a black eye.

Saidakrami Rachabalizoda is seen before appearing at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow, Russia on March 24, 2024 for allegedly carrying out a terror attack at a concert hall that left over 130 people dead.

Sefa Karacan/Anadolu via Getty Images

Video allegedly showing Rachabalizoda being brutally beaten by Russia security forces was shared on Telegram. The video appears to show Rachabalizoda lying on the ground while a man cuts at his ear with a knife.

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This video was reported on widely by Russian media but has yet to be authenticated. NBC News said it verified the footage by comparing it with images of Rachabalizoda when he appeared in court. (Global News has not independently authenticated the video.)

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Fariduni, the 25-year-old suspect, also appeared in court with a swollen face and black eyes.

Shamsidin Fariduni, one of four suspects accused of opening fire in a music hall in Moscow, is seen in court with visible injuries to his face on March 24, 2024.

Sefa Karacan/Anadolu via Getty Images

A photo purporting to show Fariduni during an interrogation with Russian forces shows him on the ground with his pants and underwear around his knees while a man stands on his leg. Some reports alleged that he had been shocked with an 80V battery.

Faizov, the 19-year-old suspect, was brought to court from a hospital in a wheelchair and sat with his eyes closed throughout the proceedings. He was attended by medics while in court, where he wore a hospital gown and trousers and was seen with multiple cuts and what appeared to be dried blood on the fabric of the gown.

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Mukhammadsobir Faizov appears unconscious as he appears in Moscow court.

Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP via Getty Images

Court officials said Mirzoyev and Rachabalizoda admitted guilt for the attack after being charged.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court ordered that the men, all of whom were identified in the media as citizens of Tajikistan, be held in custody until May 22 pending investigation and trial. Tajikistan is a former Soviet state.

The alarming state the four suspects were in when they appeared in court had some on social media questioning if Russia had tortured the men, and if the country would face repercussions.

Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, a professor of human rights at the University of London and the co-founder of the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review, pointed out that Russia is still a signatory of a major anti-torture treaty in Europe.

“Is the Council of Europe going to react to the horrible images of the terror suspect in Russia. Russia is still a member of the European convention for the prevention of torture,” Dzehtsiarou wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

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The Council of Europe expelled Russia from its membership after it invaded Ukraine in 2022. Six months later, Russia pulled out of the council’s flagship treaty, the European Convention on Human Rights. However, Russia is still party to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Under this agreement, Russia must “permit visits, in accordance with this Convention, to any place within its jurisdiction where persons are deprived of their liberty by a public authority,” the treaty states.

Global News has reached out to the Council of Europe to ask if they intend to investigate Russia.

In the latest U.S. State Department report into human rights practices in Russia, officials write that there are “numerous credible reports” that Russian law enforcement officers torture suspects.

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“Although the constitution prohibits such practices, numerous credible reports indicated law enforcement officers engaged in torture, abuse, and violence to coerce confessions from suspects, and authorities only occasionally held officials accountable for such actions,” the report reads.

“Physical abuse of suspects by police officers reportedly was systemic and usually occurred within the first few days of arrest in pretrial detention facilities.  Reports from human rights groups and former police officers indicated that police most often used electric shocks, suffocation, and stretching or applying pressure to joints and ligaments because those methods were considered less likely to leave visible marks.”

Seven more people have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the nation Saturday night. He sought to tie the attack to Ukraine and claimed the assailants were captured while fleeing there. Kyiv has firmly denied involvement.

“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in a statement.

Watson added that the U.S. shared information with Russia in early March about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow, and issued a public warning to Americans in Russia.

The attack was a major embarrassment for Putin and happened just days after he cemented his grip on the country for another six years in a vote that followed the harshest crackdown on dissent since the Soviet times.

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Some commentators on Russian social media questioned how authorities, who have relentlessly suppressed any opposition activities and prosecuted critics, failed to prevent the attack despite the U.S. warnings.

— With files from The Associated Press

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