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Petersburg court begins to review case against suspected murder mastermind

March 28, 2012, 11:32 UTC+3

The lawyer of two other defendants in the case - Druzhinin and Borisov - also said their clients were innocent

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ST PETERSBURG, March 28 (Itar-Tass) — A panel of jurors at the St Petersburg City Court began to review a criminal case against president of the city federation of freestyle wrestling and former aide to the chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee Vladimir Kulibaba, accused of masterminding a contract hit.

The investigators said Kulibaba had shopped a contract on director general of the Kaskad security firm Vadim Chechel.

The court heard the initial statements of the prosecutor and the defense. Kulibaba's lawyer stated that his client was innocent due to a lack of evidence and motivation.

The lawyer of two other defendants in the case - Druzhinin and Borisov - also said their clients were innocent.

Businessman Vadim Chechel was shot and killed at a point black range near his house in central Petersburg. The killer fired four shots with a pistol with a silencer through the window of a Ranger Rover parked in Furshtadskaya Street, in which Chechel was sitting.

The killer was detained shortly after the murder.

In 2009, the St.Petersburg City Court sentenced murder perpetrator Alexander Druzhinin to 20 years in jail.

Vladimir Kulibaba was detained on suspicion of masterminding the murder in late 2010 together with his guard Oleg Gyrzin.

Gyrzin was accused of abetting the murder: he had sold a weapon to the killer and showed the house where Chechel lived.

Kyrzin is the key witness for the prosecution.

Earlier, he signed a plea bargain deal and testified against his former employer.

In October 2011, Kulibaba's guard got an eight-year suspended sentence. The next hearing is due on Thursday, March 29.

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