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4 men charged in Moscow attack, showing signs of beatings at hearing as court says 2 accept guilt

·3 mins

Four men accused of staging the Russia concert hall attack that killed more than 130 people appeared before a Moscow court on Sunday, facing formal terrorism charges. They showed signs of severe beatings and one of them appeared to be barely conscious during the hearing.

Two of the suspects admitted their guilt in the assault, but the condition of the men raised questions about the freedom of their speech. Conflicting reports in Russian media said three or all four men admitted their involvement.

The court formally charged the men, who are citizens of Tajikistan, with committing a group terrorist attack resulting in the death of others. They could face life imprisonment. The court ordered them to be held in custody until May 22.

There were reports that the men were tortured during interrogation by the security services. Three of the suspects showed signs of heavy bruising, including swollen faces, and one of them had a heavily bandaged ear. It was also reported that one of the suspects had his ear cut off during interrogation.

The fourth suspect was brought to court from a hospital in a wheelchair and appeared with multiple cuts. He remained with his eyes closed throughout the proceedings.

Russian authorities arrested the four suspected attackers and detained seven more individuals on suspicion of involvement in the attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed they were captured while trying to flee to Ukraine, a claim that Ukraine denied.

Russia observed a national day of mourning for the attack, which has been claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group. The attack is the deadliest on Russian soil in years.

Events at cultural institutions were canceled, flags were lowered to half-staff, and television entertainment and advertising were suspended. People paid tribute to the victims by adding to a makeshift memorial near the burned-out concert hall.

Rescuers continued to search the damaged building, and the death toll continued to rise as more bodies were found. The process of identifying the bodies of those killed is expected to take at least two weeks.

Relatives of the victims, like Igor Pogadaev, desperately searched for information about their loved ones. Pogadaev’s wife went to the concert and he hasn’t heard from her since she sent him two photos from the venue.

As the death toll increased, Pogadaev searched hospitals for information on newly admitted patients but couldn’t find any information about his wife. The Emergency Situations Ministry in the Moscow region posted a video showing the dismantling of the damaged venue to aid rescuers.

Putin referred to the attack as a “bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said the four suspects were captured while attempting to escape to Ukraine. However, Ukraine accused Putin of falsely linking the country to the assault. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the claim made by the Islamic State affiliate.