MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko was found guilty on Tuesday in an acid attack that nearly blinded the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet and tarnished the reputation of the renowned theatre.
A Moscow judge said Dmitrichenko and two co-defendants had intentionally caused grievous bodily harm to Sergei Filin, who had a jar of acid splashed in his face by a masked attacker on the night of January 17.
"Their guilt in committing the crime has been established in full," judge Yelena Maximova said. She was expected to issue a sentence later on Tuesday.
Handcuffed in a courtroom cage with his co-defendants, Dmitrichenko looked impassively towards a window and showed little emotion as Maximova read the verdict from a thick sheaf of papers.
Prosecutors have asked for a nine-year prison sentence for Dmitrichenko, who was accused of ordering the attack, ten years for Yuri Zarutsky, accused carrying it out, and six years for Andrei Lipatov, accused of driving Zarutsky to the scene.
The attack, which left Filin writhing in pain and badly damaged his eyesight, revealed bitter rivalries behind the scenes of the Bolshoi Theatre and damaged the standing of one of Russia's most prominent cultural institutions.
Dmitrichenko has acknowledged he wanted Filin roughed up and had given Zarutsky the go-ahead to hit him, but said he had not expected acid to be used.
The dancer, who joined the Bolshoi as a teenager in 2002 and made his name playing villains such as the murderous tsar in the ballet "Ivan the Terrible", had pleaded not guilty.
The judge said Dmitrichenko had monitored Filin's movements on the night of the attack and told Zarutsky by mobile phone the artistic director was on his way home from the theatre.
Zarutsky, who has admitted guilt, has said that throwing acid in Filin's face was his own idea and he had not told Dmitrichenko of his plan.
The prosecution said Dmitrichenko was motivated by a conflict with Filin, 43. In court last week, prominent former Bolshoi dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze said Filin had denied roles to both Dmitrichenko and his girlfriend, a ballerina.
The case marks one of the worst crises at the colonnaded Bolshoi Theatre, which stands a stone's throw from Red Square and the Kremlin, since its foundation in 1776.
The Russian government dismissed the theatre's longtime director Anatoly Iksanov in July, in an effort to put scandal behind it, and the Bolshoi declined to renew its contract with Tsiskaridze, who had feuded with Iksanov and Filin.
But the trial again trained a spotlight on backstage bitterness exposed by the attack. In a courtroom confrontation, Filin said Dmitrichenko had spread false allegations that he had played favorites and had love affairs with ballerinas.
Defense witnesses, meanwhile, portrayed Filin as an imperious hothead and Dmitrichenko as a champion of others in the company who feared to speak out against the artistic director, who has considerable power to make or break careers.
The judge also pointed to testimony that said Dmitrichenko had accused Filin of favoritism in the distribution of grants.
Filin returned to the Bolshoi in September after months of treatment in Germany, but his sight remains impaired after more than 20 operations and he wears dark glasses to protect his damaged eyes.
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)