The British-educated Chechen man accused of plotting to kill Vladimir Putin has given his version of events to the Ukrainian court where he is standing trial.
Adam Osmayev, 31, said he recalled smelling gas at the apartment of two acquaintances, shortly before an explosion ripped through the house. Investigators say the men were a terrorist cell, practising making explosives for a hit against the Russian President’s motorcade, due to be carried out shortly after he won the election last March.
Mr Osmayev told The Independent last week that his initial confession to the crime was given after he was subjected to torture and threats, and claims that the case is motivated by political vendettas and his father’s former business ties. His extradition to Russia was halted after he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but if convicted in Ukraine, he faces up to 15 years in jail. He said he barely knew the other two men involved, one of whom died in the explosion and the other who has been extradited to Russia.
In court, Mr Osmayev linked the case to his family’s arguments with Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. “He said he would never forgive statements that dishonour him, and there were rumours that a $200,000 reward had been placed on my head,” Mr Osmayev told the court.
Prosecutors claim Mr Osmayev and two other men were under orders from Doku Umarov, a Chechen warlord who is Russia’s most-wanted man, to kill Mr Putin.
“It was a relief to finally hear his side of the story,” said Amina Okuyeva, Mr Osmayev’s wife.
The judge adjourned the case until mid-March.