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Court Cases

Ex-chess champ Kasparov in court after Pussy Riot protest

Chess legend and anti-Kremlin protester Garry Kasparov has appeared in court facing a possible jail sentence for allegedly biting a policeman. The 49-year-old was arrested at the sentencing of girl punk band Pussy Riot.

The case follows the arrest of demonstrators who chanted insults about Russian President Vladimir Putin as the feminist punk band were jailed for two years.

The private television station Dozhd on Friday reported that, in initial remarks, Kasparov had told the judge that he had faced court on political charges on five previous occasions.

In video footage, a policeman apparently hits Kasparov on the head as officers drag him away and push him into a bus.

Kasparov has been formally charged with "violating the established procedure for arranging or conducting a meeting" or other group protest. By not going through the required administrative channels for organizing a protest, he could face 15 days in jail.

There was also the possibility that he could face a more serious criminal charge, however, after one policeman said the former chess world champion had bitten him on the hand inside the police vehicle.

Earlier this week, Kasparov filed slander and illegal arrest charges against the officer.

The court in Moscow plans to look at the less severe charges first before dealing with the biting claims.

The Moscow police department has handed over responsibility for the inquiry to the federal Investigative Committee. The committee is already investigating allegations against other opponents of Putin.

Kasparov had been present with some 100 other protesters outside the court where the band Pussy riot were sentenced for staging an ant-Putin protest in a cathedral. Three band members were found guilty of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred.

rc / msh (AFP, dapd)