Bolshoi dancer Dmitrichenko on trial over acid attack

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe case has put the spotlight on tensions at the Bolshoi

The trial of Bolshoi ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko over an acid attack on the company's artistic director has opened and been adjourned.

Sulphuric acid was thrown at Sergei Filin outside his Moscow flat in January, badly damaging his eyesight.

Mr Dmitrichenko denies arranging the attack. If convicted, he could face 12 years in jail. Two other men are being tried with him over the attack.

The attack revealed bitter infighting and rivalries inside the Bolshoi.

The other two on trial are Yuri Zarutsky, who is accused of throwing the acid, and Andrei Lipatov, who allegedly drove the getaway car.

The venue for the trial - a tiny courtroom in Moscow - was packed with journalists as the defendants were led into a caged dock.

Before proceedings began, Mr Dmitrichenko, 29, repeated that he was innocent of the charges.

"I do not admit that I am guilty," he told journalists.

Shortly after the trial got under way, the judge adjourned proceedings for a week because a lawyer for Mr Zarutsky was not present.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg says it was one of the most chaotic court hearings he has attended in Russia.

Multiple operations

After initially admitting to masterminding the attack, Mr Dmitrichenko later said he had discussed an assault on Mr Filin but not the use of acid.

Following a pre-trial hearing, Mr Dmitrichenko's lawyer alleged that the defendant had been beaten by masked police - a claim that the Russian interior ministry has denied.

The day before the trial, lawyer Sergei Kadyrov said: "Dmitrichenko does not consider himself guilty of causing grave harm to Filin's health."

"I hope the court will be able to distance itself from the public resonance of this case and deliver a well-grounded and just verdict."

Mr Filin has had more than 20 operations to try to save his eyesight.

Following treatment in Germany, he returned to Moscow for the inauguration of the Bolshoi's season last month, wearing dark glasses.

At one point, more than 300 members of the Bolshoi Ballet wrote to President Vladimir Putin, saying that the idea that Mr Dmitrichenko was behind the crime was "absurd".

Mr Dmitrichenko has been in custody since March.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites