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Alleged Killers of Boris Nemtsov Ask for Jury Trial

The five alleged killers of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have asked to stand trial in front of a jury, the RBC news website reported Monday.

The preliminary hearing for the case took place behind closed doors in the Moscow District Military Court on Monday. All five of the accused pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial, Shamsudin Tsakayev, one of the group's lawyers, told RBC.

The court hasn't yet ruled on the motion, spokesperson Irina Zhirnova told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency. The high-profile trial began Monday amid heightened security, with several police buses and riot squads stationed near the court, RBC reported. Only lawyers were allowed to enter the building, with journalists and Nemtsov supporters asked to stay outside.

Nemtsov, a former Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, was gunned down in a night time hit-and-run attack while crossing Moscow’s Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in February last year. Five Chechen men had been charged over the murder.

The men — Zaur Dadayev, Anzor Gubashev, Shadid Gubashev, Temerlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev — are accused of committing the murder as part of an organized group and illegally purchasing, carrying, transporting and storing firearms. A sixth suspect, Beslan Shavanov, killed himself while being detained in Chechnya last year.

Russia's Investigative Committee said in January that it was continuing to investigate the man alleged to have ordered the hit, Ruslan Mukhidinov. Mukhidinov, a 27-year-old former officer of a Chechen police battalion, is currently on the run with an international warrant in circulation for his arrest. Nemtsov's lawyer Vadim Prokhorov has questioned Mukhidinov's alleged role in the crime, claiming that the real culprit was likely to be higher up in Russia's power structure.

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