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10 Russians found guilty of terrorism

France,Terrorism, Thu, 12 Apr 2012 IANS

Moscow, April 12 (IANS) A group of 10 Russian teenagers were Thursday found guilty of terrorism, illegally making bombs, damaging property and humiliating people on the basis of race or nationality.


The youths - from the Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organization - had attacked a Federal Security Service office in Moscow with Molotov cocktails, RIA Novosti reported.


The group, founded by a chemistry student named Ivan Astashin, started its attacks in 2009.


Police believe the group committed at least eight attacks on policemen and civilians in 2009 and 2010.


They also attempted to set fire to police departments in Moscow.


Nine students were sentenced to prison terms of up to 13 years. The 10th group member was given a three-year suspended sentence by the Moscow City Court. They were also ordered to pay 1.5 million rubles (around $51,000) in compensation for damage.


Eight members pleaded guilty to carrying out the attacks, but rejected charges of terrorism. They said the attacks were "not an attempt to disrupt the constitutional system".


Investigators said the group's leader, Astashin, used his knowledge of chemistry to make bombs to blow up cars and shops owned by people from the Caucasus.


The defence lawyer said the decision to classify the group's attacks as "terrorism" instead of "hooliganism" will be appealed in a higher court.


He said the defendants "fell under bad influence" of TV reports about riots in Moscow and Paris.


He said the group has never put forward any political demands or tried to influence state policies, but prosecutors argue that the attacks were aimed at intimidating people and pushing the authorities into tightening immigration policies.


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