Neo-Nazis gang members were sentenced to life in prison in Moscow on Monday for their involvement in 27 murders.
Eleven young men and one woman have been on trial for 18 months for the racially charged murders of 27 people in and around Moscow between 2007 and 2008. The group, all members of National Socialist Society North, laughed and taunted the judge during sentencing.
The Moscow District Military Court sentenced five men to life in prison, including gang leader Lev Molotkov, who coordinated a series of violent attacks against ethnic Russians, foreign students and darker-skinned migrants, generally with knives and hammers.
It was also suspected that the gang was involved with a filmed decapitation of one of its former members that made its way online, and was even on YouTube, briefly.
Seven more gangmembers were handed sentences between 10 and 24 years.
When the verdict was read by the judge, the skinheads shouted jives and curses at the court. One was heard yelling, our conscience is higher than your laws... We will be back.
Defense attorneys sought a reduced sentence, claiming that confessions were obtained through illegal torture. They also argued that the young men, who were in their 20s, had been brainwashed by neo-Nazis and Russian supremacists Web sites. Lawyers will appeal the verdict.
Irrespective of whether they were fooled or mentally lost they are evil killers who will never get back to a normal life, Alexander Kolodkin, whose son was a victim of the neo-Nazi murder spree, told reporters afterwards.
A day after the verdict, a Habad synagogue in Moscow was firebombed by masked men thought to be related to the neo-Nazi group. No one was hurt during the event.