Zaur Dadayev, charged with masterminding and carrying out the assassination of politician Boris Nemtsov, stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court on June 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The protracted case of Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure in Russia who was killed two years ago just outside the Kremlin, has come to an end as a jury convicts five men of carrying out the murder.
The jury at a court in Moscow said on Thursday that Zaur Dadayev, a former officer in the security forces of Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov, had pulled the trigger to kill Nemtsov in 2015 as the opposition figure was walking across a bridge. It said four other men were convicted of involvement in the killing.
Prosecutors should now announce the sentences for the five at a hearing next week while a judge would issue the final verdicts.
The five, along accomplices who helped obtain the murder weapons and transported the shooter to the crime scene, were arrested right after the crime. They had initially confessed but later withdrew their statements, saying they had been tortured to take responsibility for the murder. 
A woman holds a portrait of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov with a message which translates as "not to forget" during a memorial march on February 26, 2017 in central Moscow, two years after Nemtsov was gunned down just yards from the Kremlin. (Photo by AFP)
Nemtsov’s family swiftly censured the verdicts and said that the jury and Russia's Investigative Committee, which probes into high-profile crimes, had failed to identify the real mastermind behind the murder. The family has consistently blamed Kadyrov and his close associates for the assassination, citing comments by Chechnya’s leader who had hailed Dadayev as a “true patriot.”
"Investigators and the court clearly did not want to uncover the truth about this crime," said Zhanna Nemtsova, Nemtsov's eldest daughter, adding that "the case remains unsolved” even after the verdicts were announced.
"There was only one task: find the triggerman and hold a trial. They did just that. But we will continue to fight for the truth by any means we have," she said in a Facebook post, pointing to the fact that no high-profile Chechen officials were questioned so that Kadyrov's possible involvement could be revealed.
During the investigations, Nemtsov’s family had demanded a questioning of Ruslan Geremeyev, the commander of the unit in the Chechnya police where Dadayev had served. Prosecutors said Geremeyev failed to appear at a hearing to testify. They said "no one opened the door” when investigators visited Geremeyev's property in Chechnya.
Investigators said finally that it was impossible to establish who had really ordered Nemtsov’s assassination.

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