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Russian ex-prosecutor Ignatenko asks court for closed-door hearing

January 04, 2012, 22:21 UTC+3

Ignatenko did not want to appear guilty in the eyes of the public ahead of time as this is only a temporary arrest

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WARSAW, January 4 (Itar-Tass) —— The district court in the Polish town of Nowy Sacz, which ruled on Wednesday, January 4, to arrest Alexander Ignatenko, former first deputy prosecutor of Russia’s Moscow region, for 40 days, worked behind closed doors at the defendant’s request, his lawyer Marcin Lewczak said.

“Given the importance of the position he had held and the seriousness of the charges brought against him by Russia, we asked the court to meet behind closed doors,” he told Itar-Tass.

Ignatenko did not want to appear guilty in the eyes of the public ahead of time as this is only a temporary arrest. “His presence in court, surrounded by policemen, might have misled the public and suggest that he had already been convicted,” the lawyer said. “Besides, he did not want to disclose publicly his position on the charges brought against him.”

Lewczak said he would contest the Polish Nowy Sacz District Court’s ruling that placed his defendant under arrest for 40 days.

“We will most likely contest the ruling, but before we make the final decision I would like to meet with his defendant who remains inaccessible to me for the time being,” the lawyer said.

“I will try to meet him today, but it won’t be easy,” he added.

“He can file an appeal himself when he gets the court ruling and its translation, but he can also ask me as the assigned lawyer,” Lewczak said.

The court ruling can be contested within seven days.

“The court ruled to place Alexander I [the family name is not allowed to be disclosed by Polish laws] under a temporary arrest for 40 days, that is, until February 9 of this year,” the district court spokeswoman told Itar-Tass.

The decision was made at a session held behind closed doors.

Ignatenko attended the court hearing, accompanied by his lawyer.

According to the existing procedure, the polish prosecutor’s office will wait for Russia’s request for Ignatenko’s extradition. If such a request comes from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the court will have its say on the legitimacy of such extradition. If its decision is negative, it will be final; if positive, it will have to be approved by the justice minister, the spokesman for the Polish Prosecutor General’s office, Mariusz Martyniuk, said.

Ignatenko was detained by Polish police on his way from the resort town of Zakopane to Krakow on Sunday evening, January 1.

“The detention took place on Sunday evening. The wanted person was driving a car towards Krakow,” the press service of the Malopolskie Voivodship (Lesser Poland Province) police said.

It said the criminal police had been tipped by the International Security Agency that “this person would be in Zakopane”. “When checking his documents on the road, police confirmed the identity of the man in the car and detained him,” it said.

The case has been handed over to the territorial Prosecutor’s Office in Novy-Sonch, which will make further decisions with regard to the detainee, the police said. Under Polish laws, the police are not allowed to give any names in official reports.

The International Security Agency confirmed that Ignatenko, who was on the international wanted list, had been detained in Zakopane and taken to the territorial prosecutor’s office in Nowy Sacz. “In the morning, the prosecutor will decide whether the detained person can be placed under temporary arrest,” the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, Mariusz Martyniuk, said on January 2.

Ignatenko was put on the Interpol wanted list by Moscow’s Basmanny District court’s ruling in an illegal gambling case. The court also issued an arrest warrant for Ignatenko and charged him in absentia with fraud and bribe-taking.

Interpol’s Russian office confirmed to Itar-Tass that it had been notified by Poland about Ignatenko’s detention for 48 hours, after which the judicial authorities will have to decide on his further detention.

“Interpol’s national bureau at the Russian Interior Ministry has already sent a confirmation to Poland that he is wanted by police,” the bureau said.

If Ignatenko is extradited to Russia, “he will be handed over to investigators of the Russian Investigation Committee for the necessary procedural activities. He will be put in custody and officially charged,” Markin said.

Ignatenko is the only person charged in the so-called “gambling case” to have been put on an international wanted list.

He was charged on June 28, 2011. According to the investigators, Ignatenko received more than 47 million roubles worth of bribes in cash or other property and benefits from July 2009 to February 2011.

He is also charged with fraud with regard to Ivan Nazarov, who is believed to be the organiser of the gambling business, to whom, the investigator claim, he had sold a plot of land in the Moscow region for 2 million roubles even though he had no right to do so.

On July 13, 2011, the Basmanny District Court issued an arrest warrant for Ignatenko. On August 1, the Moscow City Court upheld the verdict.

Investigator Denis Nikandrov put Ignatenko on the international wanted list on July1, but the Basmanny District Court later overruled that decision as unlawful. Ignatenko was officially put back on the international wanted list on November 7, 2011 when the Prosecutor General’s Office had confirmed that there were serious enough reasons for that.

Ignatenko was detained on Monday morning in the resort town of Zakopane, where he had come two days ago on a Lithuanian passport for a rendezvous with his family. On the way out of the town, his car was stopped by Polish law enforcement agencies. Ignatenko did not put up resistance during the detention, Polish RFM Fm radio said.


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