Moscow prosecutors yesterday read a grisly list of 49 murder charges to a man accused of being one of Russia's most prolific serial killers: a 33-year-old who allegedly planned to kill one person for every square on a chessboard.
Alexander Pichushkin, was accused by the prosecutors of killing 46 men and three women, throwing his first victim down a drain in 1992 before stepping up his macabre project in 2001 and bludgeoning many of his victims to death with a hammer.
His lawyer said the accused did not dispute the accusations.
However, when asked by the judge, Pichushkin himself refused to offer a plea, citing "unresolved questions of my personal character."
His lawyer later said Pichushkin was awaiting an answer to a request for a more comfortable cell. Prosecutors took two hours to read through the charge sheet, which became progressively more gruesome as details were given of the murders in the sprawling Bitsevsky park on the outskirts of Moscow.
Investigators said that Pichushkin, nicknamed the "Bitsevsky maniac" and "the mad chess player,", aimed to claim more victims than those killed by the infamous Soviet-era serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted in 1992 of murdering 52 people.
"Wishing to kill the largest number of people in the southwest region Pichushkin got to know people.... Earning their trust under the pretext of honouring the grave of his dead dog he invited them into Bitsevsky park at various time," Moscow city prosecutor Yury Syomin told the court.
"Offering them hard liquor, he got them into a helpless state, and using the circumstances, killed them by various means."
One of his victims was thrown drunk from a 16-floor balcony.