Five Chechen-born men sentenced for murder of Boris Nemtsov

Five men have been jailed for killing Boris Nemtsov a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin

A Russian military court has sentenced five Chechen men found guilty in the killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov to lengthy prison terms, Russian state media agency Tass reported Thursday.

The court also handed jail terms ranging from 11 to 19 years to four others convicted of helping Dadayev.

A Russian court has sentenced the main culprit in the assassination of opposition leader Borsi Nemtsov to 20 years in prison.

Nemtsov was killed on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in direct proximity to the Kremlin on February 27, 2015.

One of the young liberal politicians who sprang to prominence after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Nemtsov was once considered a possible successor by Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russian Federation.

On Wednesday, a prosecutor in the case requested to sentence Dadayev to life. The Russian government blamed the killing on opposition groups. The report was released three months later. Lawyers for the defendants also said they would appeal the ruling. Nemtsov's family and friends suspect a cover-up and have demanded that Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman president of Chechnya, is called in for questioning. His accomplices, Anzor Gubashev, Shadid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev, were sentenced to 19, 16, 14 and 11 years respectively.

Investigators continue to collect evidence concerning who ordered the killing, according to Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia's Investigative Committee.

Dadayev is a former member of the elite Northern Battalion in the Northern Caucasus republic of Chechnya, a unit that came under the command of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.

Shamsudin Tsakayev, Dadayev's lawyer, told Reuters after the sentencing that there was "incontrovertible proof" that his client had not committed the crime.

Despite the guilty verdict handed out by the court last week, Nemtsov's relatives and supporters argue the men in the court-room are mere pawns.