Guilty verdict and acquittal

In the Moscow trial of the murders of two Jesuits, the defendant has been found guilty of only one of the murders. Jury on Monday acquitted him of charges of killing second religious, Volga German Otto Messmer.

This is reported by Russian news agencies with reference to a court spokeswoman. The sentence will be decided later. Jury finds defendant guilty of murdering Ecuadorian-born Jesuit Victor Betancourt Ruiz, 42. The accused, born in 1973, had denied both murders at the trial, according to court papers. The prosecution accuses him of beating the Jesuits to death in their shared Moscow apartment at the end of October 2008. Shortly after his arrest a week later, he confessed to the double murder at the time, police said. According to the prosecution, the accused had been drunk and had murdered Betancourt Ruiz because he had sexually harassed him. Afterwards he had held out at the scene of the crime. When Messmer returned to the apartment, he had also killed him in order to cover up the crime. Betancourt Ruiz was a theology professor, Messmer headed Jesuit community in Russia. Trial closed to the public The trial has been taking place in camera since July. The German province of the order had expressed doubts about the described course of events and rejected representations that linked the case to the red light milieu. Top representatives of the Catholic Church in Germany held a vigil in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin in November 2008 and called for a complete clarification of the situation. The European Parliament mentioned the murder of the Jesuits in its 2008 human rights report.

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