Russian neo-Nazi sentenced to life for 27 murders
The head of a Russian neo-Nazi group was handed a life sentence on Monday for the murder of 27 youths in a 2007-2008 spree that shocked Moscow and led to tougher hate crime laws.
The court also handed life sentences to four of his 12 accomplices and convicted several of them of terrorism.
One member of the group received a suspended sentence for cooperating with the investigation while the other prison terms ranged between 10 and 23 years.
Gang leader Lev “Molotkov poses an extraordinary danger to Russian society,” presiding judge Nikolai Tkachuk said on pronouncing his verdict.
The group chanted neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic slogans and repeatedly jeered the judge.
The father of one of the defendants broke down in tears after the verdict while the group chanted in unison: “Our conscience stands above the law.”
The neo-Nazi leader had pleaded not guilty to the crimes.
A 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 Nationalist-Socialist Society was banned by the Supreme Court in February 2010 after special instructions from the Kremlin to look into various patriotic movements’ links to racist attacks.