Jury Deliberating For Second Day In Case Of Accused Nemtsov Killers

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 28, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-chechnya-nemtsov-murder-trial/28583189.html)

The jury in the trial of five men who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of opposition politician and former Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov is continuing deliberations for a second day in Moscow.

The jury on June 28 failed to come up with a unanimous verdict in the three hours allotted by Russian law. As a result, jurors must respond to the 26 queries posited by the court by a majority vote on each one. There is no time limit for that process.

A defense lawyer, speaking to Russian state media outside the closed courtroom, said it could be as long as two or three 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