Man who confessed to Nemtsov assassination may have been tortured

The man who Russian authorities say confessed to the killing of prominent opposition politician Boris Nemtsov may have been tortured, says a human rights activist.

Andrei Babushkin, a member of Russia's Human Rights Council, says there's reason to believe that a Chechen policeman, Zaur Dadaev, confessed to the crime under torture.


Babushkin visited Dadaev and Gubashev in prison on Tuesday with a delegation from his rights group. Dadaev reportedly showed the visitors lacerations from handcuffs and ropes on his legs and said he had spent two days bound with a bag over his head. 

Dadaev also reportedly told the group that he had only confessed so that another man arrested with him would be freed, though it was unclear who he was referring to, and that he had not been given a chance to profess his innocence in court.

Gubashev also continues to maintain his innocence. Both men are Muslims and Russian state-controlled media have suggested that the pair may have targeted Nemtsov because he publicly condemned the killing of 12 people at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January. 

Nemtsov was gunned down on Feb. 27 as he walked across a bridge in Moscow, just a few hundred metres from the Kremlin.

Dadaev has now retracted that confession:

In an interview with the MK correspondents at the Lefortovo detention center, Dadayev however denied any participation in the murder.

"They were crying all the time: ‘Did you kill Nemtsov?’ I answered no,'' MK quoted him as saying. ''At the moment of detention I was with my friend, my former subordinate Ruslan Yusupov. They told me they would set him free if I confess. I agreed. I thought I would save him and will be taken to Moscow alive… I thought as soon as I am in Moscow I will tell court the truth. That I am not guilty. But the judge did even let me speak."

He further mentioned that another man named Ali Matiev could prove his non-involvement.

The interviewers met with two more of the murder suspects - Anzor and Shagid Gubashev. The latter said he had been beaten by the police, but nonetheless maintains the statement that he is not involved in the crime.

Wheels within wheels in this case.  Would you confess to murder to save a friend?  I wouldn't, either.  The FSB is putting on a great show, blaming the assassination on Chechens but so far have offered zero proof – except Dadayev's "confession" that he has now recanted.  But there are still unanswered questions about the assassination itself, which was carried out just steps from the Kremlin in the most heavily policed area of Moscow.  It is not likely that any of the suspects are professional assassins, which leaves you wondering: who are these guys, and why does the FSB believe they're guilty?