Thieves kill 17 commuters with poisoned cognac

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Three men who allegedly carried out a string of poisonings on commuter trains that left 17 dead are due to face trial in Russia, according to reports.

Investigators suspect the men plied drunk victims with a cocktail of cognac and tranquilizers before robbing them, The Moscow Times reported. In addition to the 17 dead, the attacks sickened an additional 15 victims over a three-year period in the Russian capital.

RT News reported that the trio — two Russians and an Uzbek — picked well-dressed passengers and approached them by saying they wanted to share a drink with them. Investigators told RT the men used neuroplectics, strong tranquilizers used to treat psychosis, to subdue the passengers.

The alleged attackers might not have realized how lethal the dose was or known that the victims had died, RT said. Some of the survivors are said to have suffered memory loss and continue to require medical care.

The case emerged after the arrest of Russian national Alexei Vygovsky, 24, in February, the reports said. In the following months, authorities picked up his alleged accomplices, 26-year-old Ilya Trubanov and Uzbekistan native Shukhrat Djuraev, 39.

According to the reports, the suspects deny the charges against them and have refused to testify.