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Detention Extended Of Moscow Ex-Police Suspected Of Journalist's Illegal Arrest

Denis Konovalov, seen appearing in court in February, has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The pretrial detention of four former Moscow police officers suspected of the illegal arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov last year have been extended.

Moscow's Basmanny district court ruled on June 2 that Akbar Sergaliyev, Roman Feofanov, Maksim Utembayev, and Igor Lyakhovets must remain in a pretrial detention center until September 7.

The day before, the same court extended the house arrest of the fifth suspect in the case, former police officer Denis Konovalov, who has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The five men were detained on January 29 as suspects in the high-profile case, which sparked a public outcry in June 2019.

A day later, they were charged with abuse of service duties, falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs.

Konovalov, who is charged with forging documents related to the probe, was transferred to house arrest from a detention center in February after he reached a deal with investigators and testified in court that his former boss, Lyakhovets, had ordered him to plant drugs on the reporter.

The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for Latvia-based information outlet Meduza, was arrested in June in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs.

He was released several days later after the charges were dropped following a public outcry. The case sparked an investigation into his detainment and also into why Golunov suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during the ordeal.

In mid-July, the police officers who detained Golunov were fired along with their supervisor for violating the journalist's rights.

After Golunov’s release, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Major General Yury Devyatkin, the head of the Moscow police's counternarcotics department, and Major General Andrei Puchkov, the police chief in Moscow's western administrative region, over the case.

The authorities announced in November that the case had been classified, a decision strongly criticized by Golunov's lawyers, who called the move an attempt to cover up the "wrongful arrest" of their client.

In a very rare move, the prosecutor's office of Moscow's western district apologized to Golunov in February for his illegal prosecution.

With reporting by TASS and Mediazona
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