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Court to hear sides arguments in Spartak club fan murder case

October 17, 2011, 11:37 UTC+3

The suspected killer was released by the police with no charge and there were open claims that the police had been bribed by Chechen diaspora

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MOSCOW, October 17 (Itar-Tass) — The Moscow City Court on Monday will hold hearings of the sides’ arguments in the trial of the case of murder of Spartak football fan Yegor Sviridov.

As the trial is held by jury, the public prosecution cannot name the sentence term, which, according to prosecutors, deserve the defendants. They are expected for the last time to request the jury to recognise the defendants guilty. The defendants’ lawyers will also make the final speech, after which the defendants will make their last statements.

Under the law, after the arguments the sides will formulate questions for the jury to answer. After that the jury panel will retire to deliberate on the verdict.

There are six persons in the prisoners’ dock. The main defendant, Aslan Cherkesov, 27, is a native of Nalchik. He is accused of hooliganism and murder, attempted murder, malicious light degree battery and robbery.

The other defendants are natives of Dagestan: Akai Akayev, 20, Artur Arsibiyev, 20, Nariman Ismailov, 20, Khasan Ibragimov, 19 and Ramazan Utarbiyev, 21. They are accused of hooliganism and malicious light degree battery.

The investigators said the defendants, in a state of alcoholic intoxication on December 6, 2010, at a bus stop walked up to a group of Muscovites, who were waiting for a taxi. “Using a small pretext and a phrase by one of the Muscovites, they attacked the young people and beat them up,” an official at the Prosecutor General’s Office said earlier.

Cherkesov who had a Streamer-2014 non-lethal pistol shot twice at two persons, “inflicting light harm on them.” Then he fired at least two shots at Sviridov, killing him. Cherkesov then shot six times at another Muscovites. Having stolen a bag, the attackers fled the scene.

The suspected killer was released by the police with no charge. Official statements said lack of evidence was the reason, but there were open claims that the police had been bribed by important members of the powerful Chechen diaspora. Despite Cherkesov and his gang claiming to be acting in self defence, witnesses state that it was they who actually initiated the brawl, as well as outnumbering the Russian Spartak fans 8 to 5. Sviridov and his friends were by a bus stand, waiting for a taxi to arrive. The Russian men were laughing and joking amongst themselves when the Caucasian group, passing by, confronted them and accused them of laughing at them. The Caucasian gang then launched a brutal attack. Not only did they outnumber Sviridov and his group, many of them also appeared to be trained wrestlers or cage fighters, and the Russian men who were not shot suffered serious injuries. Though Cherkesov claims he shot randomly and wildly into the melee whilst in fear of his life, the result was very accurate - 3 bullets hit Sviridov in the chest, one struck the back of his head, smashing half of it.

In clear contrast to the reports of a ‘random brawl between Russians and Caucasians’, the scenario from witnesses seems to imply 8 Chechen men, some of whom were armed and many were clearly highly trained martial artists, attacked 5 unarmed Russians, leading to the tragic death of Sviridov. The alleged killer and his friends (with the exception of one) were then, astonishingly, released, leading to the bribery accusations. These aspects of the case have also led many to express doubt that the Caucasians ‘fear for their lives’ motivated the shooting.

The tragic incident led to disturbances on Manezhnaya Square in central Moscow. The football fans who gathered on the square on December 11, together with nationalists, held an unsanctioned rally which escalated to clashes with police. The youths resented the actions by police who initially detained the six suspected attackers but later released five of them on a written pledge not to leave the city. Early in the day almost 10,000 people came to the Vodny Stadion (Moscow Metro) station and from there proceeded to Kronstadt Boulevard, where Yegor Sviridov was killed, to lay down flowers and light candles. Around 15:00 the crowd started gathering at Manezhnaya Square, including members of several nationalistic organisations, soon becoming over 5.5 thousand strong. Sources indicate that as many as 50,000 people could have gathered. As OMON forces tried to control the situation, some protesters tried to breach the cordon on their way to Biblioteka Imeni Lenina metro station, resulting in fights between the parties. As OMON forces started dispersing the crowd, hostilities escalated, and both sides sustained casualties. A total of some 65 people were arrested, and 29 hospitalised.

The petition for jury trial was earlier lodged by main defendant Aslan Cherkesov. He is the only defendant of the six persons in the prisoners' dock whose charges under “murder” article envision a review by jurors.

Five defendants pleaded not guilty. Cherkesov's lawyer stated that his client “does not deny using a weapon in self-defence.” Cherkesov pleaded not guilty to the charges of hooliganism and robbery.

Investigators said a day before murdering Sviridov, Cherkesov had used his weapon in another conflict in Kronstadsky Boulevard.

The Moscow City Court has also begun closed-door trial in the case of murder in July 2010 of another fan of Spartak Yuri Volkov. Volkov and his friends were attacked by a gang of Chechen men. 

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