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Police chief axed over bottle rape case

2012-03-15 15:00

Moscow - Russia's interior minister on Thursday fired the head of the police station where officers allegedly raped a suspect in custody with a champagne bottle, leading to the man's death.

Rashid Nurgaliev said the Saturday incident, in which a resident of the central region of Tatarstan died of a ruptured intestine after being detained by police in the capital of Kazan, amounted to a betrayal of police values.

The death of 52-year-old Sergei Nazarov led to a public outcry, with rights activists calling for the firing of the police chief in Tatarstan, a mostly Muslim region on the Volga River.

But Nurgaliev said he was instead firing the head of the Dalny police station in Kazan where the attack allegedly took place, Sergei Yefremov.

Tatarstan police chief Asgat Safarov would receive a reprimand, he said.

"Betrayal - that's how the Kazan tragedy deserves to be called. No one has a right to take away the most important - life," Nurgaliyev was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency to interior ministry staff.

"Those who have betrayed the interests of their service and besmirched the honour of their uniform are a disgrace, above all for their superiors who have allowed such situations within their teams."

Why such savagery?

On Wednesday, investigators brought criminal charges against four police officers from the Dalny police station.

The four - all in their mid-20s - were taken into custody but deny the charges, police said.

Another officer was detained earlier this week and fully admitted his guilt.

"The question arises: Why such young police officers from the Dalny police station who had worked there between six months and three to four years, committed such a savage act," Nurgaliyev was quoted as saying.

Police have not released details of the crime but human rights activists said Nazarov had been raped with a champagne bottle and later died of a ruptured intestine.

Activists were planning later on Thursday to bring champagne bottles to the doorstep of the regional police headquarters in Kazan in an impromptu picket against police abuse in the city.