A Russian serial killer who invited his victims to drink vodka with him before bludgeoning them to death with a hammer has been convicted of 48 counts of murder after a trial that shocked and entranced a nation.
Alexander Pichushkin, a supermarket porter better known in the Russian press as the chessboard killer, sat in silence as a jury foreman read out 48 successive and unanimous guilty verdicts.
Dressed in a grey V-necked jumper, the 33-year-old showed no emotion and no remorse as a judge confirmed the verdicts and ruled that there were no mitigating circumstances - a pronouncement that means Pichushkin almost certainly faces life in prison.
Pichushkin, who never denied the murders but refused to enter a plea, can have expected nothing less. For him, psychiatrists said, the real punishment came from being denied the title of Russia’s most prolific serial killer.
At the beginning of his trial the trial, Pichushkin complained of unfair treatment at being charged with only 48 murders. In fact, he claimed, he had killed 63 - 13 more than Andrei Chikatilo, known as the Rostov Ripper, who was convicted of 50 murders in a 1992 trial.