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Moscow district court to question forensic expert in fatal punch case

August 16, 2012, 4:30 UTC+3

The expert is to clarify if there is causal relationship between Mirzayev's punch and Agafonov death

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MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow's Zamoskvorechye district court will continue the trial of athlete Rasul Mirzayev, who is accused of causing a student's death. On Wednesday, the court will interrogate expert Sergei Leonov.

At the previous court session, judge Andrei Fedin turned down the injured parties' petition to recuse the prosecutor, Yulia Zotova, who had asked to soften the charges against Mirzayev. The court said the arguments regarding Zotova's bias were unsubstantiated and unconfirmed.

“The injured party failed to provide reasons to remove the prosecutor, and the court does not see any reasons either,” he said. Apart from that, the judge reminded that the prosecutor's request to soften the charges is not a valid reason for recusal.

On August 14, the court was to pronounce a verdict on this case but judge Andrei Fedin unexpectedly ruled to reopen inquest and question an expert. Fedin explained that the court will hear the testimony of Sergei Leonov, a specialist at the 111th main state center for forensic examinations. Leonov is on the list of the witnesses for the defense, but he had not turned up for the hearing. Mirzayev's lawyer asked the court to help hear out his testimony.

The expert is to clarify if there is causal relationship between Mirzayev's punch and Agafonov death, and also if Mirzayev had used his professional skills.

Mirzayev, 26, a Russian and world sambo champion, is accused of "malicious infliction of grave harm to health which resulted in the victim's death by negligence." If convicted, he might face up to 15 years in prison. The investigator said the punch Mirzayev had thrown at Ivan Agafonov caused the latter’s death in a conflict near a nightclub.

The fatal incident occurred in Brodnikov Pereulok in central Moscow on August 15, 2011. Student Ivan Agafonov was rushed to hospital after a blow struck by Mirzayev near the Garage nightclub and died several days later without regaining consciousness.

"Mirzayev, using professional skills and sport training, deliberately delivered one pointed blow with his left hand in Agafonov's face," according to the case materials.

Several expert examinations were carried out within the case, which showed that the death had been caused by a fall onto asphalt after a powerful blow. Mirzayev turned himself in to police the next day after the incident.

The defendant pleaded not guilty.

During the arguments of the parties prosecutor Yulia Zotova asked the court to soften the charges against Mirzayev. She said the medical expert examination had not found causal relationship between the athlete’s blow and Agafonov's death.

Also, she referred to the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution and doctors of the hospital where Afgafonov had died. Witnesses said that after the blow, Agafonov said he was feeling OK and that despite the headache, he could move on his own and even declined emergency medical assistance.

The prosecutors asked the court to punish Mirzayev by two-year restriction of freedom. The injured parties said they were absolutely opposed to the prosecutor's position.

The trial has stirred a wide public response, since initially the Zamoskvorechey court released Mirzayev under a minimal bail of 100,000 roubles. On the following day, the Moscow city court cancelled this ruling and another Zamonskvorechye district court judge ruled to take Mirzayev in custody and returned the case to the prosecutor’s office. Later on, the prosecutor’s office submitted the case materials back to the Investigations Committee, which toughened charges against Mirzayev.

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