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Jury Deliberations Suspended In Case Of Accused Nemtsov Killers


Temirlan Eskerkhanov (left to right), Shadid Gubashev, Zaur Dadayev, Anzor Gubashev, and Khamzat Bakhayev appear inside a defendants' cage in the Moscow military court on June 27.

The second day of jury deliberations in the trial of five men charged in connection with the 2015 killing of Russian opposition politician and former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has been completed and the court has adjourned until June 29.

The jury on June 28 failed to come up with a unanimous verdict in the three hours allotted by Russian law, and began the process of responding to the court's 26 queries on the basis of majority votes.

At about 5 p.m. Moscow time, the judge reported that the jurors were tired and suspended the proceedings until 11 a.m. on June 29.

A defense lawyer, speaking to Russian state media outside the closed courtroom earlier in the day, said it could be as long as two or three more days before a verdict is announced.

Commenting on the case, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that those who ordered Nemtsov's murder have not been identified. He said such cases are "the most challenging to solve" and that the process could "take years."

Moscow military court Judge Yury Zhitnkov on June 27 removed one woman from the jury for failing to declare in advance that her husband, who died in 2013, had a criminal conviction.

A second juror was removed for allegedly bringing unauthorized materials from the case investigation into the courtroom.

The removal of two of the 15 jurors should not affect the trial, as only 12 jurors are required to produce a valid verdict.

All five defendants, who are from the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, reaffirmed their innocence during closing remarks on June 21.

The five men -- Zaur Dadayev, Anzor Gubashev, Shagit Gubashev, Khamzat Bakhayev, and Tamerlain Eskerkhanov -- are accused of murder for hire. Former Chechen military driver Ruslan Mukhudinov has been charged in absentia with organizing the killing.

Nemtsov's family believes the killing was ordered by Mukhudinov's boss, Ruslan Germeyev, the deputy commander of Chechnya's notorious Sever Battalion.

Dadayev is accused of firing the fatal shots, while Gubashev is accused of driving the getaway vehicle. The other three are accused of helping procure the murder weapon and of planning the crime.

Nemtsov, who was a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of Kremlin-installed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot from behind on a Moscow bridge just outside the Kremlin on the night of February 28, 2105.

The trial began in October 2016.

Also on June 28, the mayor of the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod, Yelizaveta Solonchenko, said she supports the idea of erecting an official memorial to Nemtsov in the city.

She said that as a former governor of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and a former first deputy prime minister of Russia, Nemtsov earned the honor.

"But we also understand that in the last years of his life, he carried out some sort of opposition activity which was not accepted by many, including residents of Nizhny Novgorod and politicians," Solonchenko said. "So society is split, so the question is not a simple one."

With reporting by the BBC, Ekho Moskvy, gazeta.ru, Izvestia, and TASS
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