News24

Top judge shot dead in Moscow

2010-04-12 13:00

Moscow - A top judge from Moscow's city court who presided over high-profile racist murder cases was shot dead on Monday as he left his apartment in the Russian capital, investigators said.

"Unknown assailants shot the federal judge of the Moscow city court, Eduard Chuvashov, on the third-floor landing in the first entrance of building 24 on Strelbishchensky Street," the investigative committee said in a statement.

"He died on the spot from gunshot wounds to the head and chest. The attackers fled the scene."

Investigators were working at the crime scene and hunting for the man who pulled the trigger in the apparent contract-style killing, the committee said.

The crime was likely to have been related to Chuvashov's work, it added.

His court dealt with "difficult criminal cases", a spokesperson for Moscow's court, Anna Usacheva, said on the Echo of Moscow radio show.

The judge had presided over at least two cases of hate crimes perpetrated by ultra-nationalist groups last year and afterwards threats against him were posted on several radical websites, said Galina Kozhevnikova of the Sova Centre, a rights group that tracks racist crimes.

"They published his picture and extracts of audio tapes from court cases, profiling him as a danger to all Russians," she said.

Suspect profiled

Just last week Chuvashov jailed three ultra-nationalists for race-motivated murders, Usacheva said.

In February he sentenced members of a skinhead group called the White Wolves to up to 23 years in jail for murders motivated by ethnic hatred.

The nine young members of the Slavic nationalist gang were found guilty of the murders of six people, most of whom were migrant workers from Central Asia, knifed and clubbed to death.

Based on surveillance videos from the building, authorities have profiled the judge's killer as a young man of Slavic appearance aged between 25 and 30, a police source was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

"The suspect was wearing a black hat, black shirt and blue jeans," the source said.

Chuvashov had recently heard a number of other high-profile cases.

His courtroom was also often in the media during a case against an agent of the federal drug control service, Alexander Bulbov, who was accused of embezzling $3.2m and released on bail in November 2009, RIA Novosti reported.