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Russian Rights Chief Says Torturing Concert Attack Suspects ‘Inadmissible’

Russia's Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. Sergei Vedyashkin / Moskva News Agency

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova has criticized the alleged violent detention of the four suspected gunmen in last week's deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall, state media reported Tuesday.

“Despite the drastic nature of detaining criminals and no criminal punishment stipulated for actions that inflict harm during detention, it’s absolutely inadmissible to use torture against detainees and accused persons,” Moskalkova told reporters.

“Any procedural operational actions must be carried out in accordance with the law,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted her as saying.

Russian authorities detained 11 people in connection with Friday's attack, which saw four camouflaged gunmen storm into Crocus City Hall, open fire indiscriminately and set the building ablaze, killing at least 139 people.

Unverified graphic footage of the suspects’ interrogations published on social media led some observers to conclude that the men were tortured by law enforcement.

Footage of the four main suspects’ detention appeared to show one getting his ear cut off and forced into his mouth, while another was shown with an electric device attached to his genitals. A third suspect appeared in court with cuts and bruises on his face and a fourth was brought into the courtroom unconscious on a medical gurney. 

Reuters said it was able to verify that the four men in the detention footage were the same as those who appeared in court on Sunday.

The Kremlin on Monday declined to comment on the alleged torture of the suspected shooters.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court has ordered seven suspects to be placed in custody until May 22 to await trial on terrorism charges. An eighth suspect is expected in court as soon as Tuesday, according to TASS.

Islamic State jihadists have said several times since Friday that they were responsible, and IS-affiliated media channels have published graphic bodycam footage from the gunmen inside the venue.

President Vladimir Putin for the first time on Monday acknowledged the role of “radical Islamists” in the attack but still linked them to Ukraine, which denied the accusations as absurd.

Moskalkova previously expressed disapproval of the recorded beating of a Russian teenager under arrest for burning the Quran by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s son.

The teenager, Nikita Zhuravel, was this year sentenced to 3.5 years in jail.

No investigation was conducted into Zhuravel’s beating in detention by Adam Kadyrov.

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