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'Chess board killer' trial continues

Hearings in the case of alleged serial killer Aleksandr Pichushkin have resumed at Moscow City Court. The former supermarket porter is accused of murdering 49 people, although he claims he's killed more than 60. He refused to testify when proceedings open

When the authorities finally arrested him in June last year, Pichushkin said he wanted to murder 64, so that he could to fill all the squares on a chessboard.

“Having caught me, they saved many lives. If they hadn't caught me, I would never have stopped,” he stressed.

Aleksandr Pichushkin admits he chose Bitsevsky Park, a large forested area in the south of Moscow, as his crime scene. Most of his victims were homeless elderly  men he invited to share a drink in the park. After they got drunk, he would kill them by smashing their heads with a hammer or by pushing them into the sewers.

The prosecution claims Pichushkin killed his first victim 15 years ago, and then laid low before returning to murder in 2001. They say last year he struck for the last time. His last victim was a woman colleague at the supermarket. She left a note with his name before joining him for a walk in the park. The police tracked the alleged killer by the note and Pichushkin's phone number, which the woman had left at her friend's house.

During last week's court session, the prosecution said he would go on trial for 49 counts of murder and three of attempted murder.

“Pichushkin is charged only with those murders that we've been able to prove. He claims that he killed more people, but so far we haven't been able to find any evidence to support this. There are no bodies, no murder weapons, and no testimony,” said Yury Syomin, the Prosecutor.

The prosecution team say the trial could last for two months, during which 98 witnesses are expected to be questioned.