The man convicted of killing Kremlin critic and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov in 2015 was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Russian court Thursday.

Shooter Saur Dadayev was given 20 years and four accomplices were given between 11 and 19 years, judge Yury Zhitnikov told the packed courtroom.

Prosecutors had initially asked for longer sentences for all of the defendants, including a life sentence for Dadayev.

In June the jury ruled by majority against brothers Shagid and Anzor Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Zaur Dadayev, who was found guilty of shooting Nemtsov six times in the back. Dadayev initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted, saying he was tortured into the confession.

All five men were ethnic Chechens from Russia’s volatile North Caucasus.

While the verdicts were welcomed by supporters of Nemtsov, the investigation and trial were condemned for failing to uncover the masterminds of the killing or addressing the motive, which is widely believed to be political.

Dadayev was an officer in the security forces of Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who many Nemtsov supporters have said should have been questioned in the case.

In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Russian Service last month, Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna Nemtsova noted that while there was motive for the perpetrators, $250,000 allegedly promised for the murder, there was no attempt to establish who wanted Nemtsov killed and why.

“I suspect that Vladimir Putin knows much more about the circumstances of this murder than me and he possesses a complete knowledge of this murder and I, as an injured party, don’t,” Nemtsova said. “Why hasn’t Ramzan Kadyrov been summoned to court?”



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