- Title: RUSSIA: Underground sect member to break silence in court
- Date: 11th August 2012
- Summary: KAZAN, RUSSIA (AUGUST 11, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF KAZAN KREMLIN EXTERIOR OF ISLAMIST SECT COMPOUND MAN PRAYING ON TOP OF PRAYER TOWER INSIDE COMPOUND FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) FORMER SECT MEMBER YUNUS IBRAGIMOV, 63, SAYING: "They say a criminal case was started against them - against the parents of the children. But I have not seen this criminal case myself, so I don't know. (JOURNALIST ASKING: 'WILL HE GO TO COURT?') He has to go there, he will go there anyway. They will force him. He wrote a complaint against them to the Prosecutor General's office. I don't know what they will decide there. (JOURNALIST ASKING: 'SO HE WILL GO TO COURT?') He will go." COMPOUND BUILDING IBRAGIMOV GOING INSIDE COMPOUND BUILDING VARIOUS OF COMPOUND BUILDING
- Embargoed: 26th August 2012 13:00
- Location: Russian Federation
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Crime
- Reuters ID: LVASSHKXBGPBMR6VN1JHU7R60M8
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Fresh light may be shed on a secretive underground Islamist sect recently discovered in the Russian city of Kazan, as at least one sect member is willing to testify in a court case; it emerged on Saturday (August 11).
The authorities in the city have begun legal cases against group members on charges of criminal neglect of parental responsibilities.
Russian police uncovered the group, living underground, earlier this month as they searched for clues into an attack on a Muslim leader in Russia' Tatarstan region.
They found 70 people living in cellars beneath a low brick house and removed 20 children.
The authorities said the children had no schooling, no medical care and no contact with the outside world.
It's believed the group had lived in isolation for a decade, some of the children being born underground.
The community is lead by Faizrakhman Satarov, a frail, white-bearded man the regional Interior Ministry says is 85 years old who had pronounced himself a prophet in 1964.
As the possibility of prosecution arose, his deputy said followers would not cooperate and rely on prayer.
But one former sect member Yunus Ibragimov said on Saturday his son, also sect member, would give evidence in court.
"They say a criminal case was started against them - against the parents of the children. But I have not seen this criminal case myself, so I don't know," Ibragimov said.
Asked if his son would go to court he added, "He has to go there, he will go there anyway. They will force him. He wrote a complaint against them to the Prosecutor General's office. I don't know what they will decide there. "
Sect leader Satarov has declared the underground property an independent Islamic state. Law enforcement officials say criminal charges may be pressed against him relating to his rejection of state authority. He could be jailed for six months.
The children from the warren were taken to hospital for health checks, but doctors said they were in a dirty, but satisfactory condition.
One 17-year old girl was pregnant.
Some have been transferred to a children's home as the investigation continues.
Mainstream Muslim leaders in Tatarstan have criticised Satarov in the past but the community was largely left alone until regional Mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded in a car bomb attack on July 19 and his deputy was shot dead on the same day.
The attacks shook Tatarstan's image as a showcase of religious tolerance in Russia, where Muslims are a large minority among the Christian majority.
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