10:45 GMT +319 July 2019
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    Beslan residents demand lifting moratorium on capital punishment

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    MOSCOW (RIA Novosti political commentator Yuri Filippov) - Nurpasha Kulayev was one of those who took over 1,200 hostages in a Beslan school on September 1, 2004.

    The mothers of children who died in Beslan in North Ossetia demand that the moratorium on capital punishment, which Russia introduced in 1996 after it joined the Council of Europe, be lifted.

    "I do not rule out that the State Duma will raise the issue of lifting the moratorium in the case of Kulayev," said Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the Duma security committee.

    As many as 317 hostages, including 186 children, died in the Beslan school. Kulayev, the only surviving member of a group of 32 terrorists that took the hostages, refused a jury trial because it would have been held in the capital of North Ossetia and would have certainly sentenced him to execution.

    But he will not be executed. "In the past, Russia hurried to assume excessive commitments to the Council of Europe," said Vasilyev. "But we cannot back out now; the bulk of the deputies would not support the idea."

    But even despite these commitments, Kulayev will be most probably sentenced for life.

    He was not an organizer or the main actor in the Beslan tragedy. According to his testimony to the Supreme Court of North Ossetia, his brother pushed him into a truck heading for Beslan without telling him what he would be required to do.

    There were several other such "know-nothings" in the group that attacked the Beslan school. When they learned that they would have to take hostage children, some of them tried to protest but were immediately killed by the group's leader, Ruslan Khuchbarov, a.k.a. "Colonel." First he shot a "failed" terrorist in the schoolyard and later he personally blew up two women who wore suicide bomber belts.

    To believe Kulayev, he was almost a hostage himself in Beslan; he did not fire a single shot and when the storming began he jumped out of the window and hid under a truck.

    He is apparently understating his guilt, said Nikolai Shepel, the deputy prosecutor general of Russia and the Beslan trial attorney. In his opinion, the terrorist was one of a special group with a clear-cut task of "blockading the school and the adjacent territory, taking as many hostages as possible and holding them."

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