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Prosecutor-General Ildus Nafikov (file photo)

KAZAN, Russia -- The prosecutor-general of Russia's Tatarstan region has asked a judge at a high-profile terrorism trial to sentence the defendants in the case to prison terms ranging from 22 years to life.

Prosecutor-General Ildus Nafikov asked the judge on March 7 to sentence Rafael Zaripov and Marat Sabirov to life in prison and the other seven defendants to terms between 22 and 24 years.

The nine defendants, all residents of Tatarstan's central city of Chistopol, went on trial in October.

They are accused of being members of a radical Islamist group known as Chistopol Jamaat.

Investigators say the group was behind two attacks in July 2012 in Kazan that seriously injured Tatarstan's Grand Mufti Ildus Faizov and killed his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov.

The defendants also are accused of seven arson attacks against Orthodox churches in Tatarstan and of launching a handmade missile at a chemical plant near Kazan in 2013.

Security forces in Tatarstan killed two leaders of Chistopol Jamaat in separate raids during 2012 and 2014.

Six other members of the group were convicted of terrorism in 2014 and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Human rights activists have expressed concerns that the defendants have been tortured while in custody.

Asylum seekers wait to board a bus near the Hungarian-Serbian border last year. (file photo)

Hungary's parliament has overwhelmingly approved the automatic detention of all asylum seekers in container camps at the borders, despite criticism from rights groups.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on March 7 that the legislation, passed 138-6 with 22 abstentions, is in response to recent terror attacks in Europe.

It reinstates Hungary's practice of detaining asylum applicants, which it suspended in 2013 under pressure from Brussels, the UN refugee agency, and the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the new measure, all asylum seekers entering Hungary, and those already in the country, will be detained or moved to the container camps.

While in camps, they will not be allowed to move around Hungary or leave the country during the processing of their applications, unless they are crossing the border back into Serbia.

The new border camps will comprise converted shipping containers built onto existing "transit zones" erected in 2015 at the southern border with Serbia, government officials say.

Orban, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for a new group of border guards known locally as "border hunters," said Hungary is "under siege."

Hungary could only count on itself for protection, he said.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, voiced deep concern after the adoption of the measure.

"This new law violates Hungary’s obligations under international and EU laws, and will have a terrible physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered," UNHCR said in a statement issued in Geneva.

"Under international and EU laws, the detention of refugees and asylum seekers can only be justified on a limited number of grounds, and only where it is necessary, reasonable and proportionate," the statement added.

'Disregarding EU Principles'

Rights group Amnesty International said last month that the new rules "disregard EU guiding principles that it is forbidden to detain someone on the basis that they have claimed asylum."

"Elderly, sick people as well as families with children may also be detained [in the containers]," the rights group said.

The new measure is the latest in a series of a tough anti-immigration steps by Orban -- who has called immigration "poison."

Hungary built militarized razor wire fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia in 2015, and handed thousands of migrants expulsion orders for "illegal border-crossing" and even jailed some.

It has also gradually been closing down its network of refugee camps, while allowing only a trickle of asylum seekers into the existing transit zones.

According to the government, 1,004 people have applied for asylum in Hungary so far this year.

The Interior Ministry on March 6 defended police against accusations of brutality against migrants, made in a newspaper article by medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and in an article in Britain's Independent website.

The Independent quoted migrants as saying that Hungarian border guards are "taking selfies with beaten migrants." (

The Interior Ministry "repeatedly and categorically rejects the unverified allegations," said a ministry statement.

Written by Eugen Tomiuc with reporting by AFP, dpa, and The Independent

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