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Beslan hostage-taker appeals guilty verdict

[JURIST] The sole surviving hostage-taker in the 2004 Beslan school siege [BBC backgrounder; MosNews report] has filed an appeal of last week's guilty verdict [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court of North Ossetia. Claiming Nurpashi Kulayev's conviction was "unlawful and groundless," lawyer Albert Pliyev argued that the prosecution failed to present evidence implicating him in the terrorism and murder charges. The Voice of Beslan [advocacy website, in Russian], a group of survivors of the Beslan siege, announced plans last week to appeal the verdict as well [JURIST report], stating that the trial did not accurately account for the true cause of death of most of the victims. The Voice of Beslan has previously complained that there has not been a proper investigation into the government's role in the siege. Three Russian police officers have been indicted for criminal negligence [JURIST report] for failing to increase security during the beginning stages of the siege, while the government has been criticized for using heavy artillery before all hostages were rescued, and for failing to provide adequate medical support in the incident.

Kulayev was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the attacks, though prosecutors requested the death penalty [JURIST report], asking for a special reinstatement of capital punishment due to the extreme nature of the Beslan siege. The attack killed 317 people, including 186 children, over the three-day siege, while another 728 hostages were injured. Itar-Tass has more.

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