MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Three Russian policemen assaulted a man to force him to confess to a theft, then doused him in gasoline and burned him to death, prosecutors and media reports said.
The police officers were arrested after the taxi driver they had hired to take them to a remote wasteland to dispose of their victim escaped and raised the alarm, Russia's private NTV television reported.
Prosecutors have charged the three officers, from the Volga River city of Saratov, with the murder of Armen Gasparyan, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement.
NTV said the three policemen had been drinking when they stopped Gasparyan in the street near his home.
They beat him, then drove to their police station where they continued to attack him, trying to force him to confess to stealing some gold. They called a taxi and drove Gasparyan to a spot outside the city limits.
"They then poured gasoline over him and set him on fire," Anton Pakhomov, a spokesman for the local prosecutor's office, told the television station.
"According to the witness, when the police officers set him on fire, he was still showing signs of life, but he subsequently died from his injuries." Prosecutors said the policemen buried the victim's body.
The taxi driver witnessed the policemen setting fire to Gasparyan, the television station said. He escaped and raised the alarm, despite threats from the police officers that they would kill him if he did, it said.
"On questioning...the suspects confessed to carrying out the crime," the Investigative Committee's statement said.