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Russia's scandal-hit police force was reeling from a new controversy on Monday after a man died in detention of a ruptured intestine after allegedly being raped by officers with a champagne bottle.
Sergei Nazarov, 52, a resident of the city of Kazan in the mostly Muslim central region of Tatarstan, complained of abdominal pain after being detained by police on suspicion of theft on Friday.
He received a pain-relieving injection in the evening but was admitted to hospital the next day after being diagnosed with ruptured intestines, regional police said.
“He underwent surgery, after which he slipped into a coma and died without gaining consciousness,” police said in a statement.
Regional interior minister Asgat Safarov on Monday called an emergency meeting, saying that all those found guilty of Nazarov's death would be severely punished.
All four senior officers at the Dalny police station in Kazan where the incident took place, including its chief, have now been sacked over a lack of trust, the regional interior ministry said in a statement.
A spokesman for investigators in Tatarstan said a probe into the incident was currently under way, saying Nazarov's relatives insisted he was raped while in custody.
Dmitry Kolbasin, head of the Agora inter-regional rights organisation, said the man had told his family about his ordeal before his death.
He “managed to say before he died that police officers in the Dalny police department had raped him with a champagne bottle”, Kolbasin wrote on his page on LiveJournal.
Police claimed that Nazarov was drunk at the moment of his arrest while his brother-in-law Shamil told the Interfax news agency he was sober and was detained on his way to a shop.
“It's unclear what kind of hooliganism for which he was detained they are talking about,” the man was quoted as saying.
With the controversy gaining steam, the Agora rights organisation and the Kazan Rights Centre formally asked President Dmitry Medvedev to relieve the Tatarstan police chief Safarov of his duties.
Russia's police have faced a series of scandals in recent years, including the killing of two people by an off-duty officer in a Moscow supermarket in 2009 as well as the repeated beating of a protester by a police officer in Saint Petersburg in 2010. - AFP