MOSCOW – A jury on Tuesday began deliberating its verdict in the case of five men accused of being involved in the murder of a Russian opposition leader who was a top opponent of President Vladimir Putin before he was shot outside the Kremlin.
Among those on trial for the 2015 slaying of Boris Nemtsov is the suspected triggerman, a former officer in the security forces of Chechnya's regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
When the former officer, Zaur Dadayev, was arrested shortly after the slaying, Kadyrov vehemently defended him as a "true patriot."
The judge summarized the evidence to the jury Tuesday morning, and the jury left to deliberate.
After several hours, jurors failed to render a unanimous verdict and adjourned until Wednesday. If jurors cannot reach agreement, they will hold a majority vote.
Nemtsov was shot late at night as he was walking across a bridge just outside the Kremlin.
The brazen killing sent shockwaves through the Russian opposition. Nemtsov's allies have criticized investigators for stopping short of studying a possible role of top Chechen officers and Kadyrov himself in the killing.
Nemtsov's family has petitioned investigators to look into Kadyrov's possible involvement and to question Ruslan Geremeyev, commander of the police unit in which Dadayev served.
The police commander was summoned to testify, but he failed to show up. Investigators told the court last year that they visited Geremeyev's property in Chechnya but "no one opened the door."
Vadim Prokhorov, who represents the Nemtsov family at the trial, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the failure to examine the case beyond the alleged triggerman and his accomplices demonstrates the Kremlin's unwillingness to get to the bottom of the case.
"The fact that there was no mention of the organizers or those who ordered the killing — this is a clear and evident position of the government: there is no way one should dig deeper in relation to Ramzan Kadyrov or anyone higher up."
Vitnija Saldava and Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report.