ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has unveiled a plaque commemorating the 15 victims of a subway explosion in 2017 after plans for an official ceremony to mark the third anniversary of the tragedy was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The plaque was unveiled at the Technological Institute subway station late on April 2, a day before the third anniversary of the deadly blast.

City police and security officials have said that on April 3, 2017, 22-year-old suicide bomber Akbarjon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbek Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, detonated a bomb in a subway carriage while it was between the Technological Institute and Sennaya Square stations, killing himself and 15 others.

Sixty-seven others were injured in the attack.

A second explosive was left at a station platform, but it was found and safely defused.

A military court in St. Petersburg in December sentenced Abror Azimov to life in prison for financing the attack, while 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms of between 19 and 28 years.

All of those sentenced pleaded not guilty to charges of financing the attack, being members of a terrorist group, supporting terrorist activity, and the illegal production and sale of explosive devices.

The authorities said they were arrested in different Russian cities and held in Moscow before being transferred to St. Petersburg for the trial.

Russian news agencies broadcast footage provided by authorities showing what they described as the arrest of one of the defendants, Akram Azimov, in Moscow in April 2017.

Azimov’s mother told RFE/RL two days after the broadcast that her son had been taken away by Kyrgyz security officers from a hospital in Kyrgyzstan’s southern city of Osh, where he was being treated after surgery.

A staff member at the Osh hospital confirmed to RFE/RL that Azimov had undergone sinus surgery at the facility and that several men wearing civilian clothing had taken him away after handcuffing him.

Azimov’s lawyers alleged that once he was flown to Moscow, Azimov was taken directly from Domodedovo Airport to a purported “secret” facility and tortured for several days prior to the official announcement of his arrest.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Russian authorities for what it called a failure to investigate the alleged fabrication of evidence and torture against the 11 Central Asians who were accused in the case.

With reporting by Fontanka



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