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7 Sep, 2009 10:18

Alleged nationalists on trial after defendant murder

A Moscow court has convened over the case of a gang, dubbed the Black Hawks, accused of brutally attacking two students on the city’s metro in May last year.

Investigators believe the assault was racially motivated as the gang is made up Azeri nationals, while the victims were Moscow natives.

The suspects were arrested in September 2008 and were charged with hooliganism and deliberate assault, which could cost them up to 15 years in prison.

The case came into spotlight last week, when one of the gang was shot dead in Moscow in an apparent revenge attack. Now only six people will stand trial.

Although some regard the Black Hawks as an organized nationalistic group, their lawyer Aga Manafov insists the attack in question has nothing to do with race.

His colleague Loginov is of the same opinion:

“No evidence about the existence of the Black Hawks organization has been presented,” he told RIA-Novosti.

However, the lawyer of one of the victims, Sergey Stashevsky, says the alleged gang members shouted “Allahu Akbar” and recorded the attack with their cell phone cameras.

Human rights activist Semyon Charny believes the gang was after skinheads, and there are no grounds “to talk about organized Caucasian gangs attacking defenseless Russians,” RIA-Novosti quotes him as saying.