5 Chechens Sentenced in Killing of Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov

A Russian military court has sentenced five Chechen men found guilty in the killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov to lengthy prison terms, Russian state media agency Tass reported Thursday.

Nemtsov, a vocal Kremlin critic and deputy prime minister in the late 1990s to President Boris Yeltsin, was shot dead in February 2015 as he walked with his girlfriend in central Moscow.

Former Chechen soldier Zaur Dadaev, who investigators say acted as the gunman, was handed a 20-year sentence. Four other Chechens — all of whom were convicted of being accomplices in the same court last month — were handed terms ranging between 11 and 19 years. All five will serve their time in a high-security penal colony.

Zaur Dadayev had initially confessed to his role and that of the others in the crime, according to Natalia Mushnikova, the judge in the case. However, he later retracted his confession after telling human rights activists from Russia’s federal watchdog, the Public Observation Commission, that it was given after being tortured, state news agency RIA Novosti previously reported.

The four accomplices — Anzor and Shadid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev — all proclaimed their innocence throughout the case.

Moscow’s District Military Court also fined each man 100,000 rubles ($1,670). The trial of the five men began in October 2016, seven months after the suspects were arrested.

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SOURCE: CNN, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Alla Eshchenko