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Russia: Pussy Riot defendants allege trial 'torture'

Members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot claim that they are being "tortured" during their trial in Moscow.

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A supporter of the female Russian punk band Pussy Riot picket pickets the police headquarters in Moscow on Mar. 8, 2012, shortly after three members of the group were arrested for allegedly storming the altar of a Moscow church and performing a protest song. (ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Pussy Riot protesters on trial for hooliganism today accused Russian authorities of "torture."

According to RIA Novosti, at the start of the second day of hearings, a lawyer for band members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich said the defendants were too exhausted to participate after spending around 11 hours in court the day before.

"They were given no food to eat and were not allowed to sleep," said defense attorney Violetta Volkova. "It's torture."

She argued that the lengthy hearing had left the defendants little time to prepare for today's session.

The court finally agreed to pause proceedings so that the women could eat and sleep, but only after Volkova threatened to apply for the judge to be dismissed, The Moscow Times reported.

The trial continued with the prosecution calling its witnesses, including members of the Russian Orthodox Church who were present for Pussy Riot's unauthorized protest performance in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Church officials accuses the women of blasphemy for singing a "punk prayer" that called on the Virgin Mary to overthrow President Vladimir Putin. The defendants maintain their protest was political, not religious, and have apologized for offending worshippers. 

Appearing for the prosecution, one member of the clergy said he accepted the apology; aother, however, described it as "superficial" and "blasphemous," according to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

More from GlobalPost: Pussy Riot defendants plead not guilty to hooliganism

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120731/russia-pussy-riot-trial-torture