Guilty of murder: Killer of football fan faces life sentence

A Moscow court has found the main suspect in the killing of Russian football fan Egor Sviridov guilty of premeditated murder. Sviridov was shot dead in central Moscow in December 2010 when a disagreement turned violent.

­It took five hours of intense deliberation by the jury to finally come to a decision. They found that the principal defendant in the case, Aslan Cherkesov, a native of the North Caucasus, guilty of all charges – murder, attempted murder, hooliganism and assault.

Cherkesov pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, arguing that even though he had fired the weapon, he had done so in self-defence and without the intention to kill. Cherkesov's defence lawyer said they would appeal against the verdict.

"I strongly disagree with the verdict and will be appealing," said the defendants' lawyer, Dmitry Pankov. "The jury did not agree with the version that Ismailov (one of the defendants) started the brawl by hitting one of the fans. They've come to the conclusion that the assault was planned and Cherkesov was the one who attacked the fans, using an insignificant motive."

If the verdict remains in force after the appeal, Cherkesov is facing a life sentence behind bars. However that did not seem to bother him at all as he was laughing while listening to the verdict, reports Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The five other defendants who stood trial alongside Cherkesov have all been found guilty of the lesser charges of hooliganism and assault. They each face seven years in prison.

Egor Sviridov was killed in a brawl between football fans and North Caucasus natives December 2010. The story made headlines when some of the suspects were released by the police. This sparked violent protests by Spartak Moscow fans, who marched in their thousands, gathering near the walls of the Kremlin.

What started as a peaceful commemorative rally ended in violent clashes with the police, resulting in more than 1,700 arrests. The police said the crowd had been infiltrated by provocateurs and nationalists who had helped to incite the crowd to violence.