Nemtsov trial: jury finds all five accused guilty over murder of Kremlin foe


Moscow (AFP)

A Russian jury on Thursday found five men guilty of organising and carrying out the contract killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, after a trial his allies say failed to unmask the masterminds.

Former deputy prime minister Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down just steps from the Kremlin as he walked home with his girlfriend late in the evening of February 27, 2015.

The brazen murder in downtown Moscow was the most high-profile political killing in Russia since Putin rose to power some 17 years ago.

The 12-person jury ruled after on the third day of deliberations that defendants Zaur Dadayev, Shadid and Anzor Gubashev, Temirlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev -- all ethnic Chechens from Russia's volatile North Caucasus -- carried out the hit as part of an organised gang.

Dadayev -- a former officer in an interior ministry battalion in Chechnya -- was found guilty of firing the four fatal shots.

The Gubashev brothers, Eskerkhanov and Bakhayev were found guilty of helping to organise and carry out the killing.

The jury's decision was reached by majority vote after they first failed to come to unanimous decisions on the long list of charges against the defendants at the end of ten months of hearings.

While the ruling provides some answers over the murder, Nemtsov's supporters insist that despite the trial those who ordered the charismatic politician's death have not been uncovered.

Lawyers for his family said earlier they were convinced that all of the accused, with the exception of Bakhayev, were involved.

But they still insist the evidence clearly shows that those close to Kremlin-loyal Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov -- or Kadyrov himself -- were actually behind the assasination.