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Former Russian prosecutor to be questioned in Poland

January 03, 2012, 14:41 UTC+3

The decision on the legal possibility of extradition is to be made by the Nowy Sacz court

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WARSAW, January 3 (Itar-Tass) — The district prosecutor's office in the Polish town of Nowy Sacz will question former Russian prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko, accused of taking bribes from the masterminds of illegal gambling business in the Moscow region. Ignatenko has been on the Interpol wanted list, the press secretary of the prosecutor's office Beata Stempel-Waszecha told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

"Today, Alexander I. [under Polish law, the last name is withheld] will be questioned by a prosecutor, whereupon the prosecutor’s office will send an inquiry to the district court of the town of Nowy Sacz for temporary arrest in connection with the extradition process," she noted without telling precisely when Ignatenko might be questioned.

"Time is short: the court must decide on arrest on Tuesday. The 48-hour period when Ignatenko's freedom may be restricted without special resolution expires by 20:00, local time," the spokeswoman said.

In case of arrest, Russia will forward an official request for extradition. The decision on the legal possibility of extradition is to be made by the Nowy Sacz court," Stempel-Waszecha said.

The press service of the prosecutor's office said former first deputy prosecutor of the Moscow region Alexander I. had been detained in Zakopane on January 1, 2012.

Ignatenko was detained by Poland's domestic security agents at 20:00, local time /23:00, Moscow time/ as he was leaving Zakopane. He had arrived at the town for reunion with his family. The police stopped his car as he was leaving the town. Ignatenko did not offer resistance during the detention.

On June 28, 2011, Alexander Ignatenko was charged in absentia with fraud. The investigator said he had been taking bribes in cash or other property worth 47 million roubles in the period from July 2009 through February 2011 in person or through an intermediary for covering up illegal gambling business.

He is also accused of fraud against suspected gambling business mastermind Ivan Nazarov, whom he had sold a land plot in the Krasnogorsk district of the Moscow region for two million roubles, although the prosecutor had no ownership rights to that property.

On July 13, Moscow's Basmanny court sanctioned Ignatenko's arrest in absentia, and on August 1, the Moscow City Court turned down the petition by Ignatenko's lawyers who had asked to cancel the ruling.

Investigators put Ignatenko on the international wanted list back on July 1.

In early 2011, the Federal Security Service reported that an illegal gambling ring had been exposed in the Moscow region, and named first deputy regional prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko among the suspects. They include the regional prosecutor, his colleagues and police officials. The FSB said it had encountered active resistance already at the initial stage of the probe, on the part of supervisory bodies and police.

On January 1, 2007, the federal law on gambling came into effect in Russia. Under the document, gambling is only allowed in four specialized zones: the Kaliningrad region, the Altai and Primorye Territories and between Rostov region and the Krasnodar Territory. Outside of these areas, gambling is illegal.

The article under which the criminal case was opened envisions a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison with additional fine up to one million roubles or possible restriction of freedom for up to two years.

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