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Russian court acquits prison bosses in high-profile torture case

media captionEvidence of torture in Russia prison

A Russian court has acquitted the former boss of a prison, along with his deputy, over the torture of an inmate in a case that shocked the country.

Thirteen other defendants were found guilty and handed jail sentences ranging between three and four years.

The case was brought after video emerged of the brutal torture of Yevgeny Makarov in a prison in Yaroslavl, north of Moscow, in 2018.

It caused public outrage and prompted calls for reform in the prison system.

  • Russian outcry over prison brutality video

Court sources quoted by Russian media said that Dmitry Nikolaev, former head of the prison IK-1 in Yaroslavl, and his deputy Igit Mikhailov had been cleared on charges of torture. Prosecutors immediately said they would appeal against the verdicts.

According to the Moscow-based rights group Public Verdict Foundation, prison employees said Dmitry Nikolaev and Igit Mikhailov had been aware of the torture of Yevgeny Makarov, referring to it as "educational work". They denied any wrongdoing.

Of those found guilty of abuse of office, the longest sentence - four years and three months - was handed to ex-prison guard Maxim Yablokov who was clearly seen in the video striking the prisoner repeatedly.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMaxim Yablokov confessed to his role in the violence

Another high-profile defendant in the case, prison official Sergei Efremov, was sentenced in January to four years. He had pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against his colleagues.

Some of those found guilty on Thursday were immediately released because of time served in pre-trial detention, court sources said.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionConditions at a the Yaroslavl prison were the subject of a major inquiry

Footage of the torture was published by Novaya Gazeta in the summer of 2018. It showed Yevgeny Makarov being held face down on a desk as more than a dozen prison officers took turns to beat his feet with truncheons.

Russian prison authorities announced a full inquiry into events at IK-1 and pledged a thorough inspection of all detention facilities.

Yevgeny Makarov's mother, Tatyana Makarova, said at the time that the mothers of other inmates had contacted her with similar tales of torture.

"I want everything to be exposed, at last, and for those men to be judged as they deserve," she said.

Related Topics

  • Human rights in Russia
  • Russia
  • Criminal justice system

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