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Mirilashvili Handed 12-Year Jail Term

Published: August 5, 2003 (Issue # 890)



  • Mikhail Mirilashvili sitting behind bars during a recent court hearing in his trial.
    Photo: Maria Krugovaya / For The St. Petersburg Times

The Leningrad District Military Court on Friday handed down a 12-year jail term to local businessperson Mikhail Mirilashvili, who has spent the last 2 1/2 years in jail on charges of creating a criminal gang, kidnapping and attempted murder.

While dropping the attempted-murder charge, the court gave its verdict based on articles 33, 126 and 127 of the Russian Criminal Code. The articles cover illegitimate entry into a person's living space, kidnapping and illegitimate deprivation of freedom, respectively.

Three other defendents, Mark Sidler, Andrei Demenko and Yevgeny Kazmirchuk, were acquitted of charges of withholding information relevant to the case, the illegal sale of precious metals and the illegal storage of weapons, respectively.

Defendent Viktor Petrov was sentenced to 5 months and 17 days in jail for storing ammunition.

Mirilashvili's attorneys angrily denounced the conviction, which they labeled "ridiculous" because, while the alleged kidnappers walked free, Mirilashvili got a jail term for organizing a kidnapping with a group of people yet to be identified.

"This decision is no surprise to us," Mirilashvili spokesperson Dmitry Mirapolsky said in a telephone interview on Monday. "We expected this would happen."

"It proves once again that the target of this hunt is specifically Mikhail Mirilashvili and no-one else," he said. "We're going to appeal to a higher court, and this situation will be cleared up there."

According to Mirapolsky, Mirilashvili's final statement to the court on July 25 alleged that city Deputy Prosecutor Boris Salmaksov was demanding a bribe of $1 million to close the case.

"He's already been singing this song for more than a year and half," Salmaksov said in a telephone interview on Monday. "I'm not going to justify myself to anyone, because there is nothing to justify."

Salmaksov said he is still sure that more careful work by investigators would have produced more evidence.

"The case turned out as it did because there was evidence against [Mirilashvili] and no evidence against the other suspects," he said. "There are tapes of telephone conversations with [Mirilashvili's] voice. There are tapes with other people's voices, but Mirilashvili says he wasn't in the office [from where the calls were made] at the time, and doesn't know who these people are."

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