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Eleven Former Russian Prison Guards Convicted Of Inmate Torture In High-Profile Case

Former prison guards of the Correctional Colony No. 1 in Yaroslavl attend a court hearing in Yaroslavl on February 21.

Eleven former prison guards in the Russian city of Yaroslavl have been convicted and handed prison terms in a high-profile case on inmate torture.

The Zavolzhye district court on November 19 sentenced the 11 men to prison terms between three years and four years and three months. Six of them were released from custody, as the court said their pretrial detention had been long enough to cover their sentences.

In a separate ruling, the court acquitted the former warden of Correctional Colony No. 1, Dmitry Nikolayev, and his ex-deputy, Igit Mikhailov.

Prosecutors asked the court to sentence Nikolayev and Mikhailov to seven years in prison each, and sought prison terms between four years and seven years for the other defendants.

Irina Biryukova, a lawyer for one plaintiff, Yevgeny Makarov, called the sentences "too mild" and said she will appeal the court ruling.

The former prison guards and their bosses were arrested after the nongovernmental organization Public Verdict made public a 2017 video via the Novaya gazeta newspaper that showed at least 17 guards beating Makarov while he was lying on a table in a penitentiary.

The video caused a public outcry and prompted Russian law enforcement authorities to arrest the guards in 2018 and 2019.

The authorities also announced that prior complaints by inmates across Russia would be investigated, sparking a November 2018 probe into the alleged torture of 25 inmates in a second prison in the Yaroslavl region.

The cases have focused attention on what activists say is widespread abuse and torture of inmates in the country.