[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 29 October 2007, 10:16 GMT
Life term for 'chessboard' killer
Alexander Pichushkin in Moscow courtroom
Alexander Pichushkin said he had killed 61 people
A Moscow court has sentenced serial killer Alexander Pichushkin, known to the Russian media as the "Bittsa maniac", to life imprisonment.

The Russian shop assistant was found guilty of 48 murders, which he once said he recorded on a chessboard.

Most of the murders were committed over five years in Bittsa Park, in Moscow's southern suburbs.

Pichushkin has never denied the charges. He was also found guilty on three counts of attempted murder.

The jury found there were no mitigating circumstances, and rejected a defence request to clear him of 18 of the killings. The prosecution requested a life sentence.

Woodland murders

Since 1996 Russia has observed a moratorium on the death penalty.

Pichushkin began his 14-year killing spree in Moscow in 1992, and was arrested in June 2006.

His victims were drowned in a sewer or bludgeoned to death with a hammer, investigators say.

In his final trial statement last week he told the court: "I alone decided the fate of 60 people... I was judge, prosecutor and executioner".

He described the killings as "a sort of ritual, my style, my handwriting".

Pichushkin originally said he planned to carry out 64 killings, one for each square on a chessboard.

But he later denied this, saying he would have carried on killing indefinitely if he had not been arrested. He puts the number of his victims at 61.

Many were elderly men who got drunk with him, investigators say, though he also killed three women.

The vigilance of a relative of one of the dead led to his capture.

Before the Pichushkin case came to light, Russia's most notorious serial killer in recent times was Andrei Chikatilo, who killed 53 women and children in the southern city of Rostov. He was convicted and executed in 1994.

Alexander Pichushkin in court

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