Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Counting on FSB's Bombing Testimony

FSB testimony in the trial of would-be suicide bomber Zarema Muzhikhoyeva shows she did not intend to detonate the bomb but was trying to get arrested, her lawyer said in an interview Friday.

Defense lawyer Natalya Yevlapova said the key evidence in the closed-door jury trial, which is due to hear closing arguments Monday, came from two Federal Security Service bomb disposal experts. They testified Thursday that Muzhikhoyeva could not have been trying to detonate the bomb as it later exploded, killing their colleague, Yevlapova said.

Muzhikhoyeva faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if found guilty of terrorism, attempted murder and illegal possession of explosives. Yevlapova said her client admits the explosives charge, which carries a maximum penalty of eight years, but denies the other charges.

Muzhikhoyeva, a 24-year-old widow from Ingushetia, was arrested on 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa on July 9 last year and charged with trying to detonate a bomb she was carrying in a black shoulder bag. Georgy Trofimov, a sapper for the Federal Security Service, was later killed trying to defuse the bomb.

Muzhikhoyeva at first told investigators that she had tried unsuccessfully to detonate the bomb, Yevlapova said, but later said she had confessed because she was afraid that the organizers of her bombing mission would have her killed.

Yevlapova said that Muzhikhoyeva was afraid of the police, believing that the terrorists might have paid them to kill her, something that seemed plausible to her in light of widespread reported corruption in the police force, Yevlapova said.

Most of all, Muzhikhoyeva distrusted Yevlapova, because the court-appointed lawyer showed up wearing black, the traditional color of shakhids, or martyrs, Yevlapova recalled.

The defense lawyer said that Muzhikhoyeva's fears of being killed by terrorists were revealed during one of her first interrogations late on July 10, the day after her arrest.

Despite being questioned throughout a long, hot day, Muzhikhoyeva seemed afraid to drink bottled water although she was extremely thirsty, Yevlapova said. Seated behind a table with three bottles of water, the lawyer and the prosecutor, Yelena Kotova, took sips of water from their bottles, but Muzhikhoyeva only looked at hers and licked her dry lips, Yevlapova said.

Then Muzhikhoyeva suddenly leaned over and took a few big gulps of water from Yevlapova's bottle, the lawyer said. Muzhikhoyeva later said she was afraid of being poisoned, Yevlapova said. This account was confirmed in court by Kotova, who spoke about her testimony in an interview with Izvestia on March 30.

Muzhikhoyeva's suspicions of her lawyer began evaporating after Yevlapova mentioned that she was worried that her daughter's wedding party in a few days' time might be bombed.

"She saw a human being in me," Yevlapova said.

Later Muzhikhoyeva started cooperating with investigators, helping law enforcement agencies locate at least 10 terrorist suspects and a terrorist safe house in the Moscow region village of Tolstopaltsevo. At this time, she also changed her testimony about trying to detonate the bomb, Yevlapova said.

Muzhikhoyeva had tried to get herself arrested by behaving suspiciously, Yevlapova said, but was afraid of turning herself in because she suspected surveillance by the organizers of the bombing.

Instead she wanted someone to call the police, the lawyer said.

Muzhikhoyeva, who has been held in the FSB's top-security Lefortovo Prison, said in a Feb. 3 interview with Izvestia newspaper that said she agreed to become a shakhid after being disowned by her family for stealing jewelry from the family of her late husband. Her in-laws would receive $1,000 in compensation when she carried out a suicide bombing, the paper quoted her as saying.

But a month before the failed Tverskaya bombing attempt, her nerve failed and she realized she "would never be able" to go through with the bombing, she said, Izvestia reported.

On July 9, Muzhikhoyeva took a table outside Mon Cafe, and stared and made faces at a bunch of men sitting inside, Yevlapova said, adding that her client thought the terrorists would not sit inside a cafe they wanted to blow up.

When staring and making faces did not help, she walked away and came back trying to look suspicious, Yevlapova said. Seeing no reaction from the men, she opened her bag and showed them the bomb's switches, Yevlapova said. When still no one noticed, Muzhikhoyeva stuck her tongue out, Yevlapova said.

One of the men, who turned out to be one of the cafe's owners, identified by Yevlapova as Vladimir Lisovsky, walked out and attempted to approach Muzhikhoyeva, Yevlapova said.

Muzhikhoyeva told him to stop as she had a bomb, prompting him to call the police. Muzhikhoyeva then walked away and was soon arrested.

On Monday, the jury is expected to hear closing statements.

Judge Pyotr Shtunder instructed the jury on Thursday to bring sandwiches for Monday's hearing, which could be a sign that they will hold their deliberations and hand down a verdict on the same day, Yevlapova said.