By Rakesh Raman
Zaur Dadayev, a prime suspect arrested in connection with the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, has withdrawn his confession.
He told two human rights activists – Eva Merkacheva and Andrei Babushkin – on Wednesday that Russian interrogators tortured him to get his confession.
Nemtsov, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, was shot dead on February 27 in Moscow soon after announcing a rally to oppose the Vladimir Putin-supported war with Ukraine.
According to human rights organization Amnesty International, Dadayev told members of the Public Monitoring Commission (an independent group authorised to visit places of detention in Russia) that after his detention he was hand-cuffed and blind-folded with a bag placed over his head for two days.
He said he confessed to the crime after the authorities promised they would release his friend. Another suspect in the case, Shaghid Gubashev, said he had been “beaten and tortured.”
Russian authorities, on the other hand, dismissed the claims of human rights activists. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, according to Amnesty, suggested that raising allegations that Dadayev was tortured into confessing and that Gubashev was also ill-treated may amount to “interference with the work of investigator with the purpose of preventing a comprehensive, full and objective investigation of the case.”
The Russian authorities’ threat to bring criminal charges against two human rights activists who published torture allegations from two men accused of the assassination of Nemtsov, raises alarming questions over the fairness of the investigation, said Amnesty International.
The members of the Public Monitoring Commission have reported that both accused showed numerous marks on their bodies, and complained of being denied food and given hardly anything to drink for more than two days prior to their transfer to Moscow.
“What this case needs is not a rapid, politically expedient resolution but an unambiguous demonstration that the principles of fair trial are fully respected and that justice has been done. This includes investigating all credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director at Amnesty International.
According to CNN, Putin has condemned Nemtsov’s killing and ordered three law enforcement agencies to investigate. He also wrote to Nemtsov’s mother, saying he shared her grief, and promised to bring those behind the killing to justice, CNN reported.
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