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Prosecutor Seeks Prison Terms For Former Moscow Police Officers In Golunov Case

Prosecutors are seeking a 16-year sentence for Igor Lyakhovets, the former chief of the Moscow police's illegal drugs department. (file photo)

Prosecutors have asked the Moscow City Court to hand down prison terms ranging between 7 years and 16 years to five former police officers suspected in the illegal apprehension of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in 2019.

One of the defendants' lawyers, Aleksei Gubkin, said on April 27 that the prosecutor in the high-profile case asked the court to sentence the former chief of the Moscow police's illegal drugs department, Igor Lyakhovets, to 16 years, his ex-subordinates Maksim Umbetbayev, Roman Feofanov, and Akbar Segaliyev to 12 years, and Denis Konovalov to 7 years in prison.

The trial is being held behind closed doors.

The five ex-police officers were arrested in late January 2020 and charged later with the abuse of service duties, the falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs.

In September, the suspects were additionally charged with "committing a crime in an organized group," which carries stricter penalties.

Golunov, 38, who works for the Latvia-based information outlet Meduza, was arrested in June 2019 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 Golunov's detention and also into why he suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during the ordeal.

The police officers who detained Golunov were later 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 department's drug control directorate, and Major General Andrei Puchkov, the police chief in Moscow's West administrative region, over the case.

Authorities announced in November 2019 that the case had been classified, a decision harshly criticized by Golunov's lawyers, who called the move an attempt to cover up the "wrongful arrest" of their client.

In a rare move, the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow's Western District apologized to Golunov in February 2020 for his illegal prosecution.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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