MOSCOW: Russian prosecutors sought Friday a nine-year jail sentence for Bolshoi ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko over his alleged mastermind role in an acid attack that nearly blinded the troupe’s artistic director.

The prosecution also asked the court to sentence Dmitrichenko’s suspected associate Yury Zarutsky to 10 years for flinging the sulphuric acid in the face of Sergei Filin on January 17, a crime that shocked Russia and scandalised the historic theatre.

The trial of Dmitrichenko, Zarutsky and a third associate named Andrei Lipatov- suspected of driving the attacker to Filin’s home - has captivated the ballet world and revealed deep frictions within the legendary theatre.

“The accused are all guilty and deserve no leniency,” RIA Novosti quoted Filin’s lawyer Tatyana Stukalova as telling the court. Filin, 43 and himself a former Bolshoi star who came back as artistic director after joining a different Moscow theatre, had said in highly-emotional court testimony that he would never forgive the culprits for what happened.

Dmitrichenko, who was known for dancing dark characters such as Ivan the Terrible, is said to have been frustrated by the lack of promotion under Filin for himself and his then girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova.

Dmitrichenko has pleaded not guilty, saying that he had never intended for acid to be used or to cause such extensive harm, merely asking Zarutsky, a former convict acquaintance, to “rough up” Filin in order to send him a message.–afp