“This is your grenade, do you understand?” St. Petersburg metro bombing migrant defendant said FSB officers tortured him into ‘confessing’
Akram Azimov became known after the footage of his detention by the FSB, which many netizens believe to have been staged.
The Moscow District Military Court heard the testimony of Akram Azimov, 31, of Kyrgyzstan, in the case of the April 2017 terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg metro. He spoke about a four-day torture after he was secretly taken to Moscow and instructions given to him before the official interrogation at the Investigative Committee, Fontanka reports.
Akram Azimov became known after the footage of his detention by FSB officers, which was published on April 19, 2017. Many netizens believed that Azimov’s humility was a sign that the detention had been staged.
Azimov publicly told his version of the events for the first time on September 18. He said in good Russian that he had come to Russia for the first time in 2012, got a job at a sushi bar and regularly traveled to Kyrgyzstan. At the end of March 2017, he left Russia and on April 12, was hospitalized with chronic sinusitis in Kyrgyzstan.
“Three days later, on April 15, two people in civilian clothes got into the ward, asked what my name was, twisted my arms and took me out of the hospital... They took me to the airport and got me a ticket without paying. After the plane landed in Moscow, three men entered the plane - two were uniformed and one was in civilian clothes. They led me out through the back door. They twisted my arms, hooded my face and led me towards a dark-colored seven-seater. A man was inside holding handcuffs. I asked, “What’s going on?” and they told me to shut up. The handcuffs were put on my hands and feet and I was thrown to the floor. We drove for about an hour. After that, they put me down into a basement. They told me to take off my outer clothing and remain in my underpants and T-shirt and then handcuffed me to a pipe,” Azimov said describing his secret export to Russia.
According to the man, some kind of clamps were attached to him in the basement, and questions about a certain Ahmad were asked.
“I replied that I did not know, and I felt pain all over my body. They screamed that Ahmed was some kind of Amir, a terrorist, that I had sworn allegiance to him. I was surprised and said we were not in the Middle Ages to swear allegiance. They shouted, “You’re going to tell us what we want to hear, smartass” Azimov recounts in a calm voice.
He began to say what they wanted to hear after they promised the same torture for his family members. Azimov’s briefing lasted four days, until April 19th.
“I was asked the same questions over and over. In sentences where I made mistakes, the officers shouted and promised torture. I tried to remember what was demanded of me. On the last day, April 19, they asked me what my shoe size was and brought in sneakers two sizes larger. They took me to the shower, I washed myself and got dressed,” he told the court.
Azimov was put in the same minibus that had taken him away from the airport four days ago. They drove for a long time.
“After some time, I was moved into a passenger car. They put documents in the jacket and attached a bag to the belt. They pulled over and told me to get out. If I want to live, I must follow the instructions, they said. If I jerk, I'm done. They ordered me to wait at a bus stop. I sat down and bowed my head. Half a minute later, the same car that had taken me from the airport arrived and men ran out of it with cameras to film my detention. The same man who had handcuffed me at the airport on April 15th was the one filming. A grenade-like object was found in the waist bag. In the car, they put the grenade in my palm and squeezed my fingers around it. While driving, they watched and re-watched the video. Someone said that there was a person in it that should be edited out. We were heading to the Investigative Committee.”
When in front of the investigator’s office, Azimov was told to remember that the grenade belonged to him. That was what he told later, and refused to testify after an agreement with a lawyer. Before that point, he had had lawyers provided by the state.
The explosion in the metro occurred on April 3, 2017 and claimed the lives of 15 people as well as Akbarjon Jalilov, whom the investigators deemed a suicide bomber. 60 people received injuries of varying severity. Abror Azimov, Akram Azimov, Seyfulla Khakimov, Dilmurad Muidinov, Sodik Ortikov, Azamjon Makhmudov, Mahamadyusuf Mirzaalimov, Bahram Ergashev, Ibrahim Ermatov, Shokhista Karimova, and Muhamadyusup Ermatov were in the dock.
According to investigators, the attack was masterminded by Abror Azimov, and his brother Akram allegedly received money from a Syrian militant in Turkey and passed it on to the suicide bomber. On April 3, security forces officers found a bomb on the tracks of the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station. A second explosive device was detonated in a car between Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologichesky Institut.
All 11 defendants in the St. Petersburg metro bombing case pleaded not guilty two years ago.