Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Moscow racist killers convicted

Source: BBC News | Europe
11:09 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A woman walks past graffiti reading "We love you!" with a swastika mocking migrants
Russia has been plagued by racist attacks in recent years

A Moscow court has found seven skinheads guilty of 20 racially motivated murders in Russia's capital.

The court said the gang had carried out the killings between August 2006 and October 2007 and had also tried to murder 12 other people.

Prosecutors said the defendants - most of whom were minors at the time of the attacks - had formed a gang to target non-Slavic migrants in the city.

The court is due to begin considering the sentences on Thursday.

Two other members of the gang were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Leniency plea

During the trial, the prosecution argued that the defendants had formed an organised group with the aim of murdering migrants from Asian and Caucasian regions of the former Soviet Union.

In other words, they targeted people who did not look white, or Slavic, the BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow reports.

The trial was conducted behind closed doors, and for that reason exact details of the case are few, our correspondent says.

But Russian media reports say some of the accused readily admitted their guilt - even appearing to take pride in what they had done.

A court spokeswoman said the jury had decided that all of those convicted - with the exception of two identified as the organisers of the gang - deserved leniency.

The spokeswoman said the maximum prison term for a minor under Russian law was 10 years.

Even in a city frequently plagued by racist violence, this gang's crimes stand out, our correspondent says.

Russia has been plagued by a series of racially motivated attacks, some of them fatal, in recent years.

Between January and October this year 113 people were killed in racist attacks in Russia and 340 were wounded, according to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau.

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