[JURIST] Three Russian deputy police chiefs charged with criminal negligence [JURIST report] in connection with their conduct during the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] in which over 300 civilians were killed received amnesty from a Russian court Tuesday. Relatives of the victims, most of whom were children, began vandalizing the courtroom by breaking windows and overturning furniture, forcing the judge reading the order to retreat to another room before finishing, according to Reuters. Prosecutors had alleged that the police officers failed to raise security levels despite warnings about the possibility of attacks in the region.
The officers pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to charges of negligence in March, and could have faced up to 7 years in jail if convicted. Victims rights groups such as Mothers of Beslan [advocacy website] have argued that the government has ignored and covered up failures by the law enforcement agencies involved in the siege and the rescue operation. Reuters has more.