Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Beslan mothers occupy court
Mothers who lost children in the Beslan school siege have made an angry attack on Russia's President Vladimir Putin, at the trial of the sole siege suspect.
About 15 women who lost children in the Beslan siege continued to occupy the courtroom on Wednesday, after refusing to leave at the end of Tuesday's session.
The mothers, who spent the night in the court, are demanding to meet the top prosecutor in the case, deputy Russian prosecutor general Nikolai Shepel.
On Tuesday, one mother read a list of officials she alleged had not been brought to account, among them Mr Putin and the head of Russia's FSB security service, Nikolai Patrushev.
"We believe that witness testimony before the court is being ignored and that the real guilty parties are not at the defence table," said Ella Petrozova, speaking by phone from the courtroom to AFP news agency.
Correspondents say many of the relatives have been enraged by revelations of police corruption, and by details of why the Beslan rescue operation was so flawed.
Update: Radio Free Europe reports that the sit-in has ended:
The protest rapidly turned into a trial of strength between Shepel and the Beslan mothers. And after 28 hours in the courthouse, the women, looking worn and tired, gave up and returned to their homes empty-handed.
But Suzanna Dudiyeva, who heads the Beslan Mothers Committee, says the protest is not over and will continue in some other form.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service after leaving the courthouse, she said the Beslan Mothers have no longer any desire to meet with Shepel.