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Court refuses Moscow synagogue knife attacker jury trial

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow City Court refused Monday a trial by jury for a man charged with a knife attack on a central Moscow synagogue early this year, and ruled to keep him in custody for three more months.

Alexander Koptsev, 21, was handed down a 13-year jail sentence in March after being found guilty of racially motivated attempted murder, for the stabbing of nine men at the synagogue in January, but was cleared of instigating racial hatred.

In June, Russia's Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and ruled a retrial after both Koptsev's lawyers and prosecutors appealed against the verdict, but remanded the defendant in custody.

As the new lawyers for Koptsev joined the case, the Moscow City Court gave them two weeks to study the case materials, and scheduled the next hearings for August 15.

The lawyers said the defendant was mentally unstable, while prosecutors said a 13-year sentence was insufficient, and pressed for a 16-year sentence.

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