[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Russian 'serial killer' in court
Alexander Pichushkin entering a Moscow courtroom
A jury will decide whether or not Mr Pichushkin is sane
A Russian man accused of being one of the country's most prolific serial killers has appeared in court.

Alexander Pichushkin faces 49 murder charges, allegedly carried out between 1992 and 2006.

The 33-year-old told Moscow City Court he wanted to be tried by jury, rather than face a panel of judges. The trial is expected to begin on 13 September.

Police said he told them after his arrest he planned to kill 64 people - one for each square on a chess-board.

Prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge him with 49 murders - but that police were still investigating several other cases.

After the 15-minute hearing, his lawyer Pavel Ivannikov told reporters: "My client understands that he is to blame for most of these murders."

Correspondents say the main issue for the jury to decide will be whether or not Mr Pichushkin is sane.

If convicted, he faces life in prison, as Russia currently has a moratorium on the death sentence.

'Bitsyevskiy maniac'

Prosecutors said he befriended many of his victims - mostly men - by promising them alcohol.

When they were too drunk to resist, he would bludgeon them to death with a hammer or push them into a sewage pit, according to prosecutors.

Several of the victims were found in Bitsyevskiy park in south-west Moscow, leading the media to dub the killer the "Bitsyevskiy maniac".

Mr Pichushkin, who worked at a grocery store in south-west Moscow, was arrested in June 2006 on suspicion of killing a female colleague, whose body was found in Bitsyevskiy park.

The woman, Marina Moskaleva, had reportedly left Mr Pichushkin's number with her son before she was killed.

Most of the murder charges relate to a spate of killings that began in 2000, and led to bodies being found in many parks and other places across the Russian capital.

Russian suspected of 62 murders
01 Aug 07 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific