Suspects Say They Were Tortured
Published: October 18, 2005 (Issue # 1114)
MOSCOW — Three men recently acquitted of terrorism charges, including two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners, accused law enforcement agencies on Friday of torturing them to force confessions.
A jury in Tatarstan in September acquitted Timur Ishmuratov, Ravil Gumarov and Fanis Shaikhutdinov of charges of involvement in the January explosion of a gas pipeline in the Tatarstan city of Bugulma.
The acquittal was a rare case of suspects being acquitted of terrorism charges in a country that has been hit by a string of devastating terrorist attacks. Prosecutors said they would appeal the ruling.
Ishmuratov and Gumarov are among seven Russian men who were released from Guantanamo last year and returned to Russia. After being briefly held in jail in southern Russia, they were freed after investigators found no evidence of their involvement in the Taliban movement.
The pipeline exploded on Jan. 8, but it caused no casualties. Citing initial police reports, rights groups claimed the blast was caused by technical problems, not criminals.
But the three men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the explosions.
They said at a news conference Friday that law enforcers had severely beaten them, deprived them of food and sleep and tortured them with gas masks.
Shaikhutdinov said he spent the first five days of his detention without any sleep, one wrist handcuffed to the bars of his jail cell so as to prevent him from sitting down.
“At night we would stand and during the day they allowed us to sit down, telling us meanwhile to admit that we had acquired explosives,” he said.
Shaikhutdinov said regional police and security officers had beat him several days in a row, trying to get him to confess involvement in the pipeline explosion and accuse his comrades.
“Then I fell and they continued beating me as I was lying with their hands and legs, aiming at my kidneys and groin and stomach,” Shaikhutdinov said bitterly.
He also said law enforcement officers had put a gas mask on him, periodically turning off the flow of oxygen and making him breathe cigarette smoke, which caused him to suffocate and vomit.
“Gas masks and electric shock are common in Tatarstan,” said Gumarov, who also said he was tortured.