Russia jails three for murder in homophobia case

View of Kamchatka's main city - file pic Image copyright AP
Image caption The Kamchatka peninsula in the far east is one of Russia's most remote regions

A court in Russia's far east has jailed three men for the murder of a man they believed to be gay.

The victim was lured to a remote forest in Kamchatka where he was stabbed and kicked to death, the region's chief prosecutor said.

Correspondents say it is unusual for Russian prosecutors to acknowledge homophobia as a motive for an attack.

The attackers - now aged 26, 22 and 18 - put the victim's body inside a car and set it ablaze to conceal the crime.

A statement on the Kamchatka chief prosecutor's website said investigators had established that the three committed the murder "out of personal hatred, based on their conviction that their fellow villager's sexual orientation was non-traditional".

The crime took place one night in May last year.

The court handed down jail terms of 12-and-a-half years, 10-and-a-half years and nine years, to be served in a harsh-regime penal colony.

The three were convicted for premeditated murder, not for committing a hate crime.

Human rights activists have documented many verbal and physical assaults on gay people in Russia, and homophobia is widespread in the country's media.

A controversial Russian law curbing gay rights was passed last year and has been widely criticised. It bans "the propagandising of non-traditional sexual relations among minors".

Gay rights in Russia has become a major issue in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, opening on Friday.

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