A Moscow court on Friday convicted a former police district chief of killing two people in a supermarket shooting and sentenced him to life in prison, casting an even darker shadow over a scandal-hit force.
Russians were stunned by security camera footage showing a uniformed Major Denis Yevsyukov, 32, stalking the supermarket aisles last April and firing gunshots.
Prosecutors said one of the victims was a female cashier he shot point-blank in the face.
He was also convicted on Friday on 22 counts of attempted murder for the late-night rampage in southern Moscow, which also wounded seven people.
Authorities have said the shootings occurred after Yevsyukov had argued violently with his wife and father-in-law following his 32nd birthday party last April.
When judge Nikolai Fomin read out his life sentence on Friday, Yevsyukov, sitting in a glass box with his head bowed, did not flinch. Heavily armed police encircled him throughout the hearing.
Police violence and corruption scandals over the past year have deepened Russians' distrust of law enforcement authorities.
On Thursday the Kremlin pushed through a police reform, though critics say it merely touches the surface of a deeply troubled system and will not dramatically change it.
On Friday lawyer Igor Trunov, who represents two of the wounded from the shooting spree, said he has sent a complaint against the Russian state to Europe's human rights court as he believes Russia does not protect its citizens.
"The state did not fulfill its obligations and we have appealed to the European Court in order to create this system (of protection)", Trunov told reporters after the verdict. If the Strasbourg-based court accepts the complaint, the wounded will have to prove the state played a role in harming them, after which the court will then issue Russia with an order to investigate.
"Of course his (Yevsyukov's) imprisonment means he is paying for this, but the state is acting dangerously," Trunov said.
Cracks in police system
President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed 18 high-ranking Interior Ministry officials on Thursday and announced details of a police reform plan that is to include a 20 percent cut in the 1.4-million member ministry, which is responsible for the police.
Medvedev told police chiefs the violence and scandals had undermined their authority with the Russian people, many of whom see the police as a corruption-ridden, untrustworthy force.
Cracks in the force widened late last year when Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, just days after drunk Moscow police beat a man to death, said people should be permitted to hit back at police who attack them without cause.
Kremlin critics say Medvedev's promises to fight corruption and improve the rule of law in Russia have had little practical effect since he was steered into the presidency by Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, in 2008.
ReutersLast Mod: 19 Şubat 2010, 19:40