Zaur Dadayev, one of five men convicted of organizing and carrying out the contract killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, reacts during the sentencing at the Moscow District Military Court on July 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A Russian court has sentenced the main culprit in the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov to 20 years in prison.
Zaur Dadayev, a former member of Chechnya’s security forces, was notified of the hefty jail term on Thursday.
The court also handed jail terms ranging from 11 to 19 years to four others convicted of helping Dadayev.
Prosecutors said they may appeal against the ruling as they had demanded life imprisonment for Dadayev. Prosecutor Maria Semenenko said the ruling should be carefully studied before any decision can be made on an appeal.
Nemtsov, a key member of Russia
’s opposition and a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed in February 2015 as he was walking across a bridge in Moscow. His assassination came at the early stages of a conflict in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia
forces engaged in clashes with the Kiev government.
This photo taken on January 17, 2011, shows Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov speaking during a news conference in Moscow. (Photo by AFP)
Nemtsov was working on a report on the conflict and how the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined Russia following a referendum in 2014. The report was released three months after he was assassinated.
Nemtsov’s relatives have been unhappy with the way Russia’s Investigative Committee, the top criminal investigation body, has been dealing with the case. They say convicting Dadayev and four other people was not enough as the prosecutors failed to identify those who ordered the assassination. The family of Nemtsov has repeatedly blamed Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov for the assassination. Kadyrov had hailed Dadayev as a real patriot.
A spokeswoman of the Investigative Committee said the body will continue the investigation to find potential organizers of the assassination, adding that evidence was being collected on the issue. The investigators had earlier said that it was impossible to establish who had really ordered the assassination.
The 20-year jail sentence also faced criticism, with Ilya Yashin, a close Nemtsov’s ally, saying the punishment was nothing in compensation for a human life.