Russian family alleges 'suicide' conscript tortured to death
A Russian family claimed their 20-year-old nephew was tortured to death in the army after examining horrific injuries to his body, while investigators said Wednesday they viewed his death as suicide.
Gamilya Aiderkhanova told Tvoi Den tabloid that the army had informed the family that her nephew, Ruslan Aiderkhanov, 20, a conscript serving in a tank unit, had hung himself and sent his casket with a warning not to open it.
But when relatives opened the zinc casket to wash the body according to Muslim traditions, they found it was terribly disfigured.
"His fingers are all blue, like they have been hammered. And there is no mark on his neck from the belt he allegedly hung himself with," she said.
The family also saw the body had teeth and even an eye missing, as well as a broken leg and a knife wound to the chest, she said.
"They have tortured him to death in the army. The animals killed our boy!" Aiderkhanov was drafted in April from a village in the Chelyabinsk region into a tank regiment in the neighboring Sverdlovsk region in the Ural mountains.
The military department of the Investigative Committee said in a statement Wednesday that Aiderkhanov went missing on August 31 and his body was found in woods three days later "hanging on a tree in a noose made of his belts."
Investigators have opened a criminal probe into the possibility that Aiderkhanov was driven to suicide, the statement said.
Abuse and corruption are rampant in the Russian army but high-ranking officers are rarely found guilty of crimes even in cases of deaths of drafted young men.
© 2011 AFP