RUSSIA. BESLAN ATTACKER JAILED FOR LIFE
May 26, 2006: the sole surviving suspect from the Beslan school siege has been found guilty of murder and terrorism at a court in southern Russia.
The judge said Chechen carpenter Nur-Pashi Kulayev deserved the death penalty, but as that was not possible in Russia, they jailed him for life.
Kulayev had denied the charges relating to the 2004 attack in which more than 330 people died, many of them children.
The verdict is the culmination of a year-long, highly emotional trial.
Kulayev, 25, was the only survivor from a group of 32 Chechen separatists who held more than 1,000 children, parents and teachers hostage in the North Ossetia school for three days.
He narrowly avoided being lynched by local people after being discovered hiding underneath a lorry not far from the school after the siege ended in a bloody battle between hostage-takers and Russian troops.
Kulayev admitted participating in the siege, but said he did not kill anyone and dismissed the charges against him as a "fairy tale".
Judge Tamerlan Aguzarov said Kulayev's actions had in part led to the killing of 16 hostages by the attackers and he had detonated a bomb at School Number One that had injured hostages and government troops.
He was also found guilty of shooting children and other hostages who tried to escape the school on the third day of the crisis, the Associated Press reports.
"Kulayev deserves the death penalty, but is sentenced to life in prison because a moratorium is in place," the judge said.
Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolay Shepel, who had called for the death penalty, said he was satisfied with the verdict and would not appeal. (Sources: Bbc, 26/05/2006)