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Court to pronounce verdict in Bolshoi acid attack case


A Moscow court on Tuesday was due to pronounce the verdict in the trial of Bolshoi soloist accused of masterminding an acid attack on the company's artistic director Sergei Filin.

If found guilty of plotting the January attack with his two co-defendants, Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, could be sent to a penal colony for nine years, the term sought by the prosecutors last week.

Also on the bench are Yury Zarutsky, believed to be the man who cornered Filin near his house to douse his face in acid and Andrei Lipatov, accused of driving Zarutsky to the scene.

The sensational case has exposed in detail the bitter tensions inside the legendary troupe and shook up the institution, leading to a replacement of its director and ouster of a star dancer.

Filin since January has had dozens of complicated operations on his eyes but revealed in an emotional testimony that he cannot even see his children, saying his attackers must pay for his suffering.

The Meshchansky District Court in Moscow is expected to start delivering a verdict to the trio at 0800 GMT.

The charge of premeditated bodily harm can be punished by up to 12 years in prison, but prosecutors last week asked for 10, nine, and six respectively for Zarutsky, Dmitrichenko, and Lipatov.

The trio had been held in pre-trial detention since March and appear in the packed courtroom sitting in a cage.

The high-profile trial has provided a glimpse into the rivalries and drama in the celebrated company, with 43-year-old Filin sharing information about his personal life and denying rumours that he favours ballerinas based on "intimate relations" with him.

He told of awful moments of writhing in the snow in unbearable pain after the attacker flung the liquid in his face, causing extensive damage to eyes, skin, and internal organs.

Zarutsky does not deny his guilt but said that he acted independently and never told Dmitrichenko of plans to use acid.

Dmitrichenko meanwhile argues that he merely wanted someone to rough up Filin. He is said to have been frustrated by lack of promotion under Filin for himself and his girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova, and accused the artistic director of running the troupe as his personal "puppet theatre".

The Bolshoi, an institution that sits across from the Kremlin in central Moscow, has suffered through a string of scandals in the past several years, including overspending on its renovation works and smear campaigns.

After Filin's supporters and critics, notably Bolshoi's star Nikolai Tsiskaridze, gave a series of damaging interviews, the theatre sacked both Tsiskaridze and director Anatoly Iksanov, hiring Vladimir Urin from another Moscow theatre to replace him.

But with Urin in the seat since July, the scandals just keep coming.

Last month, a young US ballerina announced to the media that she had quit the company after just one year because she was asked to pay a hefty bribe for a chance to perform a solo on stage.

On the eve of the verdict, the Bolshoi announced that its chief conductor Vassily Sinaisky had also quit, unexpectedly and with just two weeks before the theatre's premiere of Verdi's opera "Don Carlos".