Jurors debate verdicts in case of slain Kremlin foe Nemtsov

Moscow (AFP) - Jurors in the case of five men accused of organising and carrying out the contract killing of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov failed Wednesday to reach their verdicts for a second day.

After eight hours of deliberation, the jury asked the judge to resume Thursday as they struggled to bring the marathon trial into the 2015 slaying of the former deputy prime minister to an end.

Opposition leader Nemtsov's brazen murder just metres from the Kremlin in central Moscow was the most high-profile political killing in Russia since President Vladimir Putin rose to power some 17 years ago.

The five defendants -- Zaur Dadayev, brothers Shadid and Anzor Gubashev, Temirlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev -- are all ethnic Chechens from the volatile North Caucasus region.

Dadayev -- a former officer in an interior ministry battalion in Chechnya -- is accused of shooting Nemtsov dead as the politician walked across a bridge near Red Square with his girlfriend.

The men are alleged to have been part of an organised gang that carried out a contract killing.

They deny the charges but the prosecution has asked the jurors to find all the men guilty.

Investigators say the defendants were contacted by a Chechen security official named Ruslan Mukhudinov who offered 15 million rubles (about $270,000 or 237,000 euros at current rates) for the murder.

Mukhudinov has since fled and is still being sought by police, with the ultimate motive for the murder not a subject of the probe.

The trial judge has told the jury that they must reach decisions on 26 questions concerning the guilt of the suspects, on a range of charges.

There is no set timeframe for the verdicts to be delivered, but the jury is now able to decide by a simple majority after they failed to reach unanimous decisions on Tuesday.

Nemtsov's supporters insist that despite the trial the masterminds of the killing have not been uncovered.

Defence lawyers for the slain politician's family claim that associates of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov -- or Kadyrov himself -- were behind the murder.

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