Judge reads testimony of child hostages in Beslan attacker trial

High-ranking officials including the former regional president, Alexander Dzasokhov, and the former local head of the Federal Security Service, Valery Andreyev, had testified that authorities negotiated with militants in an attempt to secure the hostages' release and that government troops never targeted civilians during the storming of the school in September 2004.

Victims and their relatives, however, dismissed the official testimony as false. They claimed authorities did not do enough to save the hostages and that many had died not at the hands of militants, but of the authorities,  because of heavy weapons used during the rescue operation, the AP reports.

The testimony was read on the fifth day the judge spent delivering the verdict against Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the sole alleged attacker standing trial. Prosecutors have called for the death penalty for Kulayev, who has admitted to participating in the attack but denied killing anybody.

Judge Tamerlan Aguzarov has already established that Kulayev participated in crimes including murder, committing a terrorist act and the seizure of hostages, but the formal conviction will be announced only after all circumstances of the crime are pronounced by the court.

Court officials and prosecutors, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak on the record, told The Associated Press that they expect the verdict to be announced this week.

Earlier Monday, Aguzarov read testimony of a juvenile hostage identified only by his last name, Chepirov, who testified militants acted aggressively, fired in the air and harassed hostages. "On the second day they stopped giving (hostages) water and they started drinking urine," Aguzarov read.

Most victims died on the third day of the crisis, in a hail of gunfire and explosions that erupted after one of the bombs the attackers rigged at the school went off and security forces tried to free hostages.

Survivors of the attack and the victims' families, however, believe many deaths were caused by the botched rescue operation, in which tanks and flame-throwers were alleged used. They have repeatedly expressed frustration and anger that no senior official has been prosecuted.