Moscow, Feb 15 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A man accused of planning to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the 2012 presidential elections alleged in court that he had been tortured into confessing to the plot.
Russian national Adam Osmayev, 32, told a court in Odessa, Ukraine that he had been exposed to "physical and psychological" torture.
Osmayev, who hails from the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, was detained by Ukrainian special services in February 2012 during a raid on an apartment in Odessa.
"They said they would chop my penis off and put it in my mouth. Then they covered my head with a plastic bag. They told me they had my father and stepmother as hostages, and they would be arrested if I didn't confess," he told British daily The Independent in an interview earlier this month.
Osmayev is charged with planning to kill Putin on the orders of Doku Umarov, leader of a radical Islamist group in the North Caucasus region.
Investigators say he and two other men planned to drive cars laden with explosives into Putin's motorcade.
The alleged plot - which the Russian authorities announced less than a fortnight before Russia went to the polls - was widely dismissed by analysts and opposition figures as a ploy to boost Putin's rating ahead of the elections.
The Russian authorities maintain there was a viable plot to kill Putin.
Osmayev is also accused of plotting to kill Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed former militant who now rules the volatile republic.
Russia had unsuccessfully attempted to have Osmayev extradited to Moscow.
One of his alleged fellow plotters, Ruslan Madayev, was killed when an improvised explosive device went off in an apartment in Odessa last year, while another, Ilya Pyanzin, was arrested and confessed to the plot, investigators say.
Osmayev also told the court he had been an assistant to Russian lawmaker "Cherenkov" up until 2008, when he fled Russia over what he said was politically motivated persecution.
RIA Novosti and other Russian media outlets have been unable to find any mention of a State Duma lawmaker with this surname.
Osmayev also said he had been living in Ukraine as part of a witness protection programme.
The son of Aslanbek Osmayev, who was responsible for Chechnya's oil resources in the early 1990s, Adam Osmayev studied at a private British school in 1994, when he was a teenager.
His father told The Independent that the allegations against his son stem from an oil dispute.