Wed, 20 Jan 2021

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has postponed handing down its verdict and sentence for Azat Miftakhov, a young mathematician charged with hooliganism who says he was tortured while in custody.

The verdict and sentence were expected to be pronounced on January 11, but the Moscow City Court, in a last-minute decision, said it had moved the hearing to January 18.

Miftakhov, 25, a postgraduate mathematics student at the Moscow State University, has denied the charges, which his lawyers say stem from his anarchist beliefs and support for political prisoners.

Miftakhov's mother, Gulnur Khusainova, who traveled to Moscow from the Republic of Tatarstan to attend the court session, told RFE/RL that no reason was given for the decision to change the hearing date.

'I want to see my son free,' she said, complaining that it is not easy for her to travel some 800 kilometers (480 miles) from Kazan, Tatarstan's capital, to the Russian capital.

Miftakhov, 25, a postgraduate mathematics student at the Moscow State University, was arrested on February 1, 2019, and accused of helping make an improvised bomb found in January in the city of Balashikha near Moscow.

Miftakhov was released on February 7, 2019, after the initial charge failed to hold, but he was rearrested immediately and charged with involvement in an arson attack on the ruling United Russia office in Moscow in January 2018.

The Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights group, has said that Miftakhov's body bore the signs of torture, which the student claimed were the result of investigators unsuccessfully attempting to force him to confess to the bomb-making charge.

A prominent Russian human rights organization, Memorial, has recognized Miftakhov as a political prisoner, while Russian mathematician, Professor Anatoly Vershik, told Novaya gazeta that 2,500 mathematicians from 15 countries had signed a letter urging the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) to assist in Miftakhov's release, warning that many of them may not attend the ICM's gathering in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, scheduled for July 2022.

Others who were detained along with Miftakhov, but later released, have also claimed to have been beaten by police.

On December 23, 2020, the prosecutor in the high-profile trial asked the court to sentence Miftakhov to six years in prison.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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