MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Chechen man was convicted on Tuesday of killing Colonel Yuri Budanov, the first senior army officer jailed for murdering a civilian during Russia’s wars in the North Caucasus province of Chechnya.
A Moscow jury found Yusup Temerkhanov guilty of shooting Budanov in a Moscow street in 2011, in what prosecutors said they believed an act of revenge for the killing of his father in Chechnya, which he blamed on Russian forces.
Prosecutors sought a 16 year sentence against Temerkhanov for Budanov’s killing, Russian news agency Rapsi reported.
Budanov, a former tank regiment commander, was reviled in Chechnya after he abducted and strangled a young Chechen woman in 2000. He was jailed for her murder in 2003 but released on parole six years later.
The murder of 18-year-old Elza Kungayeva threw a spotlight on allegations by human rights groups of widespread abuses by Russian servicemen during the two wars against Chechen separatists that followed the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
At a first trial in December 2002, Budanov was declared insane by a military court and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment, a decision Chechens and Russian liberals said was a travesty.
That ruling was overturned by Russia’s Supreme Court in February 2003 on procedural grounds and Budanov was jailed for 10 years at a retrial.
However, his release on parole again angered Chechens and rights activists, who accused the authorities of being soft on him because his victim was Chechen.
Federal forces drove a separatist Chechen government from power in 2000 in a war that helped President Vladimir Putin assert his authority in Russia.
Chechnya is now governed by a Kremlin-backed leadership but Islamist militants are waging an insurgency across the North Caucasus that is led by a Chechen, Doku Umarov.
Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Jon Boyle