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Ex-KGB Officers, Russian Citizens Convicted In Belarus Narcotics Trial

Defendants Ihar Karytski and Dzmitry Veratsenski in court in Minsk in March
Defendants Ihar Karytski and Dzmitry Veratsenski in court in Minsk in March

MINSK -- Two former officers of the Belarusian KGB and a former police officer are among 17 people convicted and sentenced to prison in a high-profile drug case.

The Minsk city court on December 13 sentenced former KGB officers Dzmitry Veratsenski and Ihar Karytski to 15 and 14 years in prison, respectively. Former police officer Kanstantsin Dzenisevich received a 14-year sentence.

All three were found guilty of narcotics trafficking and distribution, as well as illegal entrepreneurship.

A man authorities claim led one of the biggest drug rings in the former Soviet republic, Kanstantsin Vilyuha, was convicted of organizing and running a criminal group and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Thirteen other defendants, including two women, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to 18 years. One defendant was sentenced to four years of "freedom limitation," which is similar to a suspended sentence with parole limitations.

Some of those convicted are citizens of neighboring Russia or hold dual Russian-Belarusian citizenship.

The trial started in February. Most of the defendants pleaded not guilty.

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