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Prosecutors appeal verdict for Russian pilots

November 15, 2011, 12:32 UTC+3

The document, sent to a higher court, says "the verdict is too harsh”

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DUSHANBE, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — The prosecutor's office of Tajikistan's Khatlon region officially protested the guilty verdict, passed by a town court, for Russian company pilots Vladimir Sadovinichy and Alexei Rudenko, sentenced to 8.5 years in a maximum regime penitentiary.

The document, sent to a higher court, says "the verdict is too harsh” and that “the prison term must be reduced while taking into account the convicted men's personalities," an official at the prosecutor’s office told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

Tor his part, lawyer Gulyam Boboyev told Tass that "he has not been officially notified about the protest yet, and that he believes no "mitigating options suit his clients except full acquittal and release."

Speaking about the date of the appeal's review by regional court, he said he was expecting official notification shortly.

On November 8, the court in the town of Kurgan-Tyube sentenced the pilots to 10.5 years in a maximum security penitentiary. The term will be reduced by two years, in accordance with the amnesty announced by the president.

The prosecutor general, Sherkhon Salimzoda, told a news conference after the announcement of the verdict that preliminary investigation materials had proven the defendants’ guilt under three articles of Tajikistan's Criminal Code: violation of state border, contraband, and violation of regulations for international flights. Also, Salimzoda accused the mass media or "wrongful interpretation of the situation around "a common criminal case."

According to him, the trial of the pilots was "open, transparent and free."

He denied any politics behind the case.

"The aircraft piloted by the crew commanders Vladimir Sadovnichy and Alexei Rudenko (An-72) landed in our territory without permission of the republic's aviation authorities and other services. These aircraft were not registered in any state, had no operating life left, had not undergone maintenance and had not been repaired for three years. In such a situation, the Tajik aviation authorities "made the only correct decision."

Meanwhile, Khatlon region prosecutors sent an official inquiry to Russian colleagues to detain head of the Rolkan Investments company head Sergei Poluyanov, who is wanted by Interpol.

Prosecutor's office representative Faizullo Kholov confirmed it by telephone, noting that Poluyanov is "an accomplice to the crimes committed by the previously convicted pilots Vladimir Sadovinichy and Alexei Rudenko."

Criminal proceedings against Sergei Poluyanov, who is a Russian citizen, were pooled into a separate case on August 15. The person in question fled the investigators and is outside of the republic, and a sanction was issued for his arrest," Kholov said.

The head of the airline is responsible for his pilots' actions, he added.

Also, the airline is practically not registered, while its planes have no certificates or other documents. "I do not see any politics in this case, because a violation of legislation is very apparent.," the representative of the prosecutor's office stated.

When asked about further actions by Khatlon prosecutors Kholov said "if a Russian citizen is detained by Russian prosecutors, the Minsk convention on legal assistance applies."

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