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15 Sep, 2006 07:46

Synagogue attacker sentenced to 16 years

Synagogue attacker sentenced to 16 years

A Moscow City Court has found Alexander Koptsev guilty of stabbing nine people in a Moscow synagogue and inciting racial and ethnic hatred. He has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. The case follows a spate of racially motivated attacks throughout the

Although he was sentenced to a 13 year prison term at an earlier trial, prosecutors were not convinced his racist motives were included in the judges’ decision. The Russian Supreme Court ordered a re-trial on that basis.

Our correspondent Anastasia Haydulina reports from the court:

We have a final verdict on the Koptsev’s case. The 21 years old Muscovite Alexander Koptsev has been convicted of attempted murder motivated by national and religious hatred. He has been sentenced for 16 years in prison. In an earlier trial and verdict, it was determined that Alexander Koptsev was guilty of attempted of murder, but nothing was mentioned about his  racial motivation, xenophobic feelings as motivators of this crime and this final verdict confirms that Koptsev is guilty of attempted murder, motivated by religious hatred. And prosecutors say this is a major victory for Russian justice system over the last few years. We all remember a series of hate crimes organized in Moscow, St. Petersburg in April earlier this year and they say this decision is a first step towards further trials and further recognition of these kinds of crimes, now called hooliganism, which will now be judged as hate crimes.

The defense can not say at the moment whether they will take further steps and appeal the court’s decision. But they consider the verdict to be unjust, as the sentence of 16 years in prison for such a crime is too much.

Alexander Koptsev himself was silent during the reading of the verdict. His last statement was that he apologied to the victims and their families and that he regretted for what he had done.