Mother of a man suspected of being involved in a bomb plot said Monday that her son was mistreated by law enforcement authorities and even could not walk without help during a court hearing last week.
The claims underscored what human rights activists say is frequent abuse of detainees by Russian police and security officers and the targeting of Chechens by law enforcement.
Umar Batukayev, an ethnic Chechen, was detained in Moscow on Tuesday by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, on charges of involvement in an alleged terror plot that involved an explosives-packed car authorities said was discovered in the capital. Another Chechen man, Ruslan Musayev, was also detained.
Batukayev's mother, Fatima, said at a news conference that during a court hearing Thursday in which a judge approved her son's arrest, he appeared unable to walk. Batukayev, 23, was brought into the courtroom by guards, she said.
"They carried my son as if he were a piece of rag, he couldn't move on his own," she said with tears in her eyes.
Musayev appeared equally weak and fell down on the stairs after the hearing, she said.
She accused the authorities of forcibly injecting her son with drugs to induce a confession, adding that security officers had failed to find any compromising evidence during a search in their Moscow apartment.
The FSB, the main successor to the KGB, said that the car contained a bomb packed with 7 kilograms (15 pounds) of plastic explosives and metal ball bearings, as well as other explosives and weapons. The bomb was safely destroyed with a water cannon, authorities said.
The FSB said the car was part of a plot to conduct a terror attack on May 9, a major holiday when Russia celebrates the anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany. It refrained from further comment on the case.
Chechen rebels have carried out numerous terror attacks in Moscow and other Russian cities during more than a dozen years of fighting in Chechnya between rebels and government forces.
On Friday, FSB officers searched the apartment of the ex-culture minister in Chechnya's Moscow-backed civilian administration, Movlu Asmayev, looking for his nephew, Adam Asmayev, in connection with the alleged bomb plot, Russian news reports said.
Svetlana Gannushkina, a prominent rights activist, denounced the arrests and the search as unwarranted, claiming that the FSB had rounded up the suspects just because they were Chechens.
"Instead of conducting normal operative work ... they quickly detain some Chechens," she said. "And then they extract confessions by beating or using drugs. It's very typical."
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