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'Primorye guerillas' trial to continue on February 27

February 04, 2014, 16:24 UTC+3 VLADIVOSTOK
Six defendants were found guilty of three murders and three attempted murders of law-enforcement personnel, thefts and robberies in the region
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© ITAR-TASS/Yury Smityuk

VLADIVOSTOK, February 04. /ITAR-TASS/. A court in Russia's Primorye Territory will hold the next hearing of the so-called “Primorye guerillas” case on February 27. Earlier in the day, a jury unanimously passed a guilty verdict for six gunmen accused of three murders and three attempted murders of law-enforcement personnel, thefts and robberies in the region.

Before handing down the verdict, the jurors had to answer 225 questions on the defendants' involvement in 23 crimes in the region in the spring of 2010.

Alexander Kovtun, Vadim Kovtun, Roman Savchenko, Maxim Kirillov, Vladimir Ilyutikov and Alexei Nikitin were found guilty of all major offenses, including three attacks which left dead two police officers and four residents of the Kirov district.

The victims included district policeman Karas of the village of Rakitnoye, and patrol officer Kovalchuk from Vladivostok.

The jurors also considered as proven the defendants' participation in setting up a criminal group, attempted murders of police, thefts and robberies. However, they cleared the defendants of several counts of burglaries and car thefts.

Some of the defendants took the verdict calmly, but others were defiant, shouting insults at the judge, jurors, and the prosecutors.

The case came to the Primorye regional court back in June 2011, but it was unable to form a jury for a long time because candidates did not turn up for selection.

At one point, three volumes of the criminal case were found missing. They contained procedural documents which investigators acknowledged as evidence. It took the court several hours to restore the missing materials.

On January 22, two of the defendants - Vadim Kovtun and Alexei Nikitin - pleaded not guilty to all the charges, while the others partially admitted their guilt.

The investigators said gang members committed several thefts and attacks in small settlements of the Primorye Territory in the spring of 2010. They stole cars, money and hunting rifles. The prosecutors said the gang had attacked police several times, killing two and wounding several others.

Regional authorities launched a sweeping manhunt. The gang's whereabouts were established on June 11, 2011. The gunmen offered armed resistance wounding two policemen. Two gunmen committed suicide as police were storming the gang's hideout.

Lawyer Nadezhda Zavludskaya said the trial might last for several weeks. She also said one of the lawyers might be replaced.

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