Jury weighs verdicts in Kremlin foe Nemtsov murder trial

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Moscow (AFP)

The jury in the trial of five men accused of organising and carrying out the contract killing of Russian opposition opposition leader Boris Nemtsov begun deliberations on their verdicts on Tuesday.

The 12 jurists retired to weigh their decision at the end of a marathon trial into the 2015 slaying of the former deputy prime minister just yards from the Kremlin in central Moscow.

Nemtsov's murder was the most high-profile political killing in Russia since former KGB agent President Vladimir Putin rose to power some 17 years ago.

The five accused -- Zaur Dadayev, Shadid and Anzor Gubashev, Bemirlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev -- are all ethnic Chechens from the volatile North Caucasus region.

Dadayev -- a former officer in an interior ministry battalion in Chechnya -- is accused of shooting dead Nemtsov as he walked across a bridge on February 27, 2015 with his girlfriend.

The men are alleged to have been part of an organised gang that carried out a contract killing.

They deny the charges but the prosecution has asked the jurors to find all the men guilty.

Investigators say the defendants were contacted by a Chechen security official named Ruslan Mukhudinov who offered 15 million rubles (about $270,000 or 237,000 euros at current rates) for the murder.

Mukhudinov has since fled and is still being sought by police.

The judge in the trial told the jury that they must reach decisions on 26 questions concerning the guilt of the suspects, on a range of charges. There is no set timeframe for the verdicts to be delivered.

Nemtsov's supporters insist that despite the trial the masterminds of the killing have not been uncovered.

Defence lawyers for the slain politician's family claim that associates of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov -- or Kadyrov himself -- were behind the killing.