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    Chessboard killer Pichushkin appeals against life sentence

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    MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - Alexander Pichushkin, one of the most prolific serial killers in Russia's history, who was found guilty of 48 murders, has filed an appeal against his life sentence, his lawyer said Friday.

    The 33-year-old former supermarket worker has been nicknamed Russia's "chessboard killer" for his habit of marking off his victims on the squares of a chessboard, which number 64. He claims to have taken the lives of at least 60 people, but investigators have yet to find evidence for the other alleged killings.

    "Pichushkin considers the verdict too harsh and unfair," Alexander Karyagin said adding that he filed the appeal at the request of his client.

    The lawyer said that in his appeal he was requesting that the Moscow City Court reduce his sentence, passed Monday, from life to 25 years imprisonment.

    "I told my defendant when we met that the appeal would probably be rejected, but he nevertheless insisted that we should go ahead," Karyagin said.

    Most of the murders committed by Pichushkin are believed to have taken place between 2001 and 2006 in wooded areas in south Moscow's sprawling Bitsa Park. Typically, Pichushkin lured his victims into the woods and plied them with vodka before battering them to death.

    When reading out the sentence on Monday, Judge Vladimir Usov said: "The defendant killed with particular cruelty," targeting elderly and very young people, the disabled, and people with psychiatric problems.

    "When killing, Pichushkin inflicted particular torment and suffering on his victims, beating them repeatedly with a hammer and nail puller, and in some cases thrust sticks and bottles into their skulls," Usov said.

    When the judge asked the defendant whether he had understood the sentence, he answered: "I am not deaf. I understood."

    In previous court testimonies, Pichushkin said he needed to kill like others need food, that murder made him "almost a god," and that his first killing was like falling in love for the first time. Speaking in his final statement last Thursday, he denied he had killed with particular cruelty.

    Pichushkin was arrested in Bitsa Park on June 16, 2006, 11 days after finishing off his final victim and leaving her body in a stream running through the park.

    Before Pichushkin's murder spree, Russia's most infamous serial killer was Andrei Chikatilo, executed in 1992 for killing 52 people, many of them children. Pichushkin earlier said his goal was to surpass the record of the Ukrainian-born "Rostov Ripper".

    Pichushkin's sentence is the maximum possible under the Russian Criminal Code. The country imposed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1996.

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