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Moscow attack suspects appear severely beaten as they're charged in Russian court

Images showing the suspects’ violent treatment in custody were shared widely across Russian social media over the weekend after at least 137 people were killed in the concert attack.
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Four suspects accused of killing more than 130 people in a terrorist attack at a Moscow concert hall appeared heavily beaten as they were charged by a court in the Russian capital Sunday.

Photos and videos released by the court showed the four men being led into the courtroom with various levels of injuries. Three of the men had visible bruises and swelling on their faces, including one with heavy bandaging around his right ear. The fourth seemed barely conscious as he sat inside the prisoner’s box dressed in a hospital gown and on a stretcher, with his eyes closed for most of the hearing.

It came after images showing the suspects’ violent treatment in custody were shared widely across Russian social media, and as President Vladimir Putin vowed revenge but made no mention of the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

The Basmanny District Court of Moscow named the suspects as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Mukhammadsobir Faizov. Two of the four had admitted their guilt, the court said, although their condition raised questions about whether they were able to speak freely.

All four were charged with committing a terror act, according to the court, and could face up to life imprisonment. The suspects were ordered detained until May 22 by the court. Seven more people were detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack.

Four men suspected of carrying out a terror attach at Crocus City Hall, await charges in a Moscow court on March 22, 2024.
Clockwise from top left: Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni, Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev and Mukhammadsobir Faizov.AP; AFP via Getty Images

All four are citizens of ex-Soviet state Tajikistan, Tass state news agency reported. The suspects had to use a translator to communicate in court, according to Tass.

NBC News analyzed footage shared over the weekend by Russian pro-war Telegram channels that showed at least one of the suspects being tortured, and others violently interrogated and injured. NBC News was able to authenticate the footage by comparing it with images of the suspects as they appeared in court on Sunday.

In one video, suspect Saidakrami Rachabalizoda lies on the ground in the woods while a man hacks at Rachabalizoda’s ear with a knife, before stuffing what looks like part of the ear into Rachabalizoda’s own mouth. Videos also show suspect Shamsidin Fariduni being interrogated on the ground in the woods as a man holds Fariduni’s head up by his hair. In a subsequent image, Fariduni drools on the floor of a sports hall with his pants and underwear around his knees while a man stands on his leg, a black box at his side.

The men are accused of perpetrating the worst terror attack Russia has seen in the last 20 years, killing at least 137 people and leaving dozens injured. Videos from inside the Crocus City Hall on Friday night showed several armed and camouflaged men shooting at people inside the venue, seemingly at random. The venue also caught on fire after an alleged explosion, leading the roof to cave in.

The detention hearing for the four suspects came as Russia marked a national day of mourning Sunday, and people continued to bring flowers to the burned-out site of the attack.

Putin claimed Ukraine’s involvement in preparing an escape route for the suspects before they were captured, an accusation Kyiv has vehemently denied and said was being used to distract from his own security failings and raise support for intensifying his military campaign.

The attack Friday on Crocus City Hall, a sprawling mall and concert venue on Moscow's western edge, also left many wounded and left the building a smoldering ruin.
A member of the Russian Investigative Committee inspects the charred remains of the Crocus City Hall in Moscow after the attack.Investigative Committee of Russia via AP

In a sign of the febrile mood among Russian officials and beyond, a leading Kremlin propagandist offered an approving nod to the signs of torture and others called for the perpetrators to face the most severe punishment, with some even reviving calls to bring back the death penalty.

“I never expected this from myself, but when I see how they are brought into the court crooked, and even this ear, I feel extremely satisfied,” the head of the Russian state broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonyan, said on Telegram, next to the images of the four suspects from the court.

Meanwhile, former president and deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, called Monday for the perpetrators and everyone involved in facilitating the attack to be killed. “Who paid, who sympathized, who helped. Kill them all,” he said in a post on Telegram.

Putin himself indicated in his address to the nation Saturday, nearly a day after the attack, that there would be no mercy for those behind what he called the “bloody massacre.”

“Terrorists, murderers, non-humans who do not and cannot have a nationality face one unenviable fate — retribution and oblivion,” said Putin, who less than a week ago was jubilantly celebrating his choreographed landslide election win.

At least 137 people, including three children, were killed when camouflaged gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall, in Moscow's northern suburb of Krasnogorsk, and then set fire to the building on March 22 evening.
The suspects were escorted into court by Russian officers in front of the waiting media.Olga Maltseva / AFP - Getty Images

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to comment Monday when asked about the signs of violence on the suspects’ faces during their court appearance and the videos of alleged torture circulating online.

The Russian defense ministry said Monday that border servicemen who helped detain the four suspects in the Bryansk region, near the borders with both Ukraine and Belarus, received state awards for their bravery.