Russia sentences Nemtsov hitmen to lengthy jail terms
July 13 2017 01:48 PM
Zaur Dadayev, one of five men convicted of organising and carrying out the contract killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, reacts during the sentencing at the Moscow District Military Court on Thursday.


A Russian court on Thursday handed lengthy jail terms to five Chechen men convicted of the contract killing of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov as his allies insisted the masterminds remained unidentified. 
Zaur Dadayev, who carried out the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years in prison while four other defendants were jailed for between 11 and 19 years, judge Yury Zhitnikov told the Moscow courtroom after a lengthy trial by jury.
The prosecutor had asked for longer sentences for all the defendants including life in jail for Dadayev -- a former internal troop officer in Russia's Chechnya region.
A jury in June found all five guilty of carrying out the hit for a fee of $250,000 after a marathon trial that Nemtsov's supporters say failed to unmask those who ordered the killing.
Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister and fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down just metres from the Kremlin as he walked home with his girlfriend on the evening of February 27, 2015.
The brazen murder in central Moscow was the most high-profile political killing in Russia since Putin rose to power some 17 years ago. 
Those convicted -- Dadayev, brothers Shadid and Anzor Gubashev, Temirlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev -- are all ethnic Chechens from Russia's volatile North Caucasus. 
Nemtsov's family and supporters say that people close to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who were linked to the murder have not been investigated.
During the trial the judge refused a request to summon Kadyrov for questioning.
"Neither the organisers nor the masterminds were in the dock," lawyer Vadim Prokhorov, representing Nemtsov's daughter, told journalists after the sentencing.
"No one any longer doubts that the trail leads to the close circle of Ramzan Kadyrov. The trail leads at least as far as Grozny, and perhaps higher," he said, hinting at complicity from top Russian officials.
Nemtsov's close ally, opposition politician Ilya Yashin, slammed the sentence for Dadayev and said "it's impossible to consider the crime solved while the masterminds and organisers are still at liberty."
"We expected a life sentence for Dadayev. What is 20 years for a human life?," he said. 

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