Russia parades four suspects in court over Moscow concert hall attack that killed at least 139

Tuesday, March 26, 2024
 – The four men suspected of carrying out a brutal attack at a Moscow concert hall that killed at least 139 people have appeared in court on terror charges, as the Russian government defended its security services criticized for failing to prevent the massacre.

Three of the suspects were bent double as they were marched into the Moscow courtroom late on Sunday night, while the fourth was in a wheelchair and looked unresponsive.

The suspects, who are from the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan but worked in Russia on temporary or expired visas, were named by Moscow City Court as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Mukhammadsobir Faizov. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The men are accused of storming Crocus City Hall in a Moscow suburb on Friday, shooting civilians at point-blank before setting the building on fire, causing the roof to collapse while concert-goers were still inside.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre and released graphic footage showing the incident but the Kremlin earlier alleged, without evidence, that the perpetrators planned to flee to Ukraine. Kyiv  vehemently denied involvement and called the Kremlin’s claims “absurd.”

At a meeting with other government officials on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack had been carried out by “radical Islamists.”

“We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists, whose ideology the Islamic world itself has been fighting for centuries,” Putin said.

The first suspect charged, Mirzoyev, had a black eye, bruises over his face and a plastic bag wrapped around his neck. Mirzoyev, 32, had a temporary resident permit for three months in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, but it had expired, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

Rachabalizoda, born in 1994, told the court through an interpreter that he had Russian registration documents but could not remember where they were.

The third defendant, Fariduni, born in 1998, was employed at a factory in the industrial city of Podolsk and registered in Krasnogorsk, both near Moscow.

The three men pleaded guilty to the terrorism charges, Russian media reported. It was unclear what the fourth man, Faizov, born in 2004, pled. He was pictured lying limp in a wheelchair inside a glass cage.

The men looked beaten and injured as they were brought into the courtroom.

The four have been remanded into pre-trial detention until May 2022, the court said.

Later Monday, Russia’s Investigative Committee asked the court to detain three other men, two brothers and their father in connection with the attack, Russian state media TASS reported.

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