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Russians on trial for beating Chinese students
Updated: 2005-10-12 17:06

Two Russians who allegedly attacked two Chinese students in a western Russian city went on trial Wednesday, but prosecutors were not charging the two with racial crimes, a court official said.

The opening of the trial in Voronezh, about 475 kilometers (300 miles) south of Moscow, came just three days after a mob attacked a Spanish student and two Peruvian students in the city, killing one of the Peruvians.

A Voronezh Central Court secretary said prosecutors were charging the two with assault and other crimes for the June 15 attack, which left the Chinese students with severe injuries.

Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, several hundred foreign students, mostly from African and Asian countries, demonstrated in Voronezh to protest the Peruvian student's death and urging regional authorities to protect foreigners from attacks.

Voronezh prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation on suspicion of murder and hooliganism in connection with the attack. Under Russian law, hooliganism brings much milder punishment than crimes shown to be racially motivated.

Rights activists have accused officials of ignoring apparently racist motives in attacks by skinheads and other extremists in Voronezh and elsewhere in Russia.

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