A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced four men to prison terms of between seven and 14 years for the racially motivated killing of a Congolese student.
The slaying of Roland Epassak in St. Petersburg two years ago prompted outrage and protests among Russian and foreign exchange students and other young people, and came amid a wave of attacks in the city on dark-skinned foreigners and immigrants.
The St. Petersburg City Court's ruling Tuesday that the four were driven by "extremist" motives followed a jury's guilty verdict earlier.
Lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.
As court bailiffs led the four men away, several women, apparently relatives, yelled at officials: "They are just boys! You are sending them to jail for what? Jail your own children!"
Outside the courthouse, relatives and protesters chanted "Freedom!" and carried signs that insisted the accused were not guilty.
Prosecutors retried the four after appealing a jury's decision last July to acquit the men.
Also Tuesday, a Moscow court sentenced three members of a neo-Nazi group to prison sentences ranging from four to six-and-half years for fatally stabbing a man heading to a rock concert, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.
Russia has seen a spike in racist and anti-immigrant violence in recent years. Rights groups say authorities do little or nothing to combat xenophobia, often prosecuting flagrant hate crimes as simple hooliganism, which carries far milder punishments.
According to the SOVA hate-crime monitoring center, 31 people have been killed and 203 wounded in apparent hate crimes in Russia this year.
Last Mod: 20 Haziran 2007, 11:12