Russian neo-Nazis face mass murder verdict for 27 killings
Russian prosecutors requested life sentences Monday for seven ultra-nationalists accused of leading a two-year murder spree in which 27 members of ethnic minorities were killed in and around Moscow.
The high-profile case involves 13 young members of a nationalist gang that allegedly hunted down students and other young people from Russia's Muslim regions and the ex-Soviet Central Asia republics in 2007 and 2008.
The authorities demanded 25-year prison terms for three members of the gang and 15-year sentences for two. Prosecutors also asked that a 10-year jail term be handed to a minor.
The group chanted neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic slogans and jeered at the judge on several occasions on Monday afternoon as he started reading out his verdict. He is not expected to pronounce the suspects' guilt until Tuesday.
The group's leader Lev Molotkov has pleaded not guilty of the crimes but prosecutors have expressed confidence in winning the case.
The recent spike in ethnic violence has prompted the Russian authorities to crack down on neo-Nazi groups and ban some organisations that had operated in the open for years.
The Interfax news agency said the 13 people on trial Monday belonged to an organisation calling itself the Nationalist-Socialist Society, which was banned by the Supreme Court in February 2010.
© 2011 AFP