Moscow synagogue attacker lawyers to seek jail-term on appeal

MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - Lawyers acting for a Muscovite convicted of attempted racially-aggravated murder after a knife-wielding attack in a synagogue asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to cut his sentence.

Earlier this month, the Moscow City Court sentenced Alexander Koptsev to 16 years in a high-security prison, and ordered he undergo compulsory psychiatric treatment after finding him guilty of stabbing nine people in January.

"We have lodged an appeal against the Moscow City Court's verdict, asking the higher court to reduce the prison sentence for our client." said Roza Saribzhanova, a member of Koptsev's defense team.

The 16-year sentence was handed down in mid-September after a retrial. The repeat hearings were ordered by the Supreme Court on appeals both from prosecutors, who had said the initial, 13-year term was too lenient, and from the defense, who had claimed their client was mentally disturbed.

Koptsev, 20, rampaged through the synagogue on January 11, shouting anti-Semitic slurs and stabbing nine worshippers with a kitchen knife before he was wrestled to the ground. In his final statement before the court, he apologized to the victims and his families.

Members of Russia's Jewish community hailed the longer sentence for Koptsev as an indication the authorities were beginning to act on criticism from religious and rights groups, who claim the state has done little to tackle a surge in race-hate violence and xenophobia.

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