The only hostage-taker to have been captured alive after the Beslan school siege has gone on trial. Chechen carpenter Nur-Pashi Kulayev, 24, faces nine charges, including murder, banditry and terrorism. The jury-less proceedings are taking place in Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Russian region of North Ossetia.
Prosecutors claim Kulayev was one of more than thirty rebels to participate in last September’s three-day siege. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, claiming he only fired his machine gun into the air. About 330 of the 1,000 pupils and adults taken hostage died in explosions and gun battles between the attackers and Russian security forces outside the building.
A number of the crimes of which Kulayev is accused remain capital offences in Russia, but with a moratorium on the death penalty, he faces life imprisonment if found guilty.