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Kopeisk prison chief under house arrest

December 26, 2012, 14:14 UTC+3
The investigators had asked the court to place the prison chief in custody
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YEKATERINBURG, December 26 (Itar-Tass) — The director of penitentiary # 6 of the town of Kopeisk where inmates mutinied in November, has been placed under house arrest, spokesman for the regional department of the Investigative Committee /SK/ Vladimir Shishkov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

The investigators asked the court to place the prison chief in custody, Shishkov said.

Mekhanov was suspended for the period of the investigation. "His duties will be performed by Lt-Col Alexander Yurochko," the press service of the regional department of the Federal Penitentiary Service told Tass.

The investigators suspect prison chief Denis Mekhanov of issuing repeated orders to his subordinates to extort money from inmates. It was the prime reason behind the November 24 munity, when 500 inmates staged a mass protest action, refusing to obey the prison regulations, they said.

Mekhanov was detained on Tuesday within the probe into the criminal case over extortion. Investigators have already brought charges against him. The maximum penalty is ten years in jail.

The case against Mekhanov was opened under Article 286, Part 3 /"exceeding authority, using violence and causing grave consequences."/

On November 24, 500 inmates at penitentiary # 6 refused to obey the demands by the prison administration and insisted on easing the regulations. The regional SK department launched a pre-investigation check. The inmates' demands were backed by their relatives who had come to the penitentiary to lend support. Eight special task force police were injured when breaking up the illegal rally.

The SK opened five criminal cases over riots in the maximum security penitentiary in Kopeisk, Chelyabinsk region, and use of violence on special task force police, SK spokesman Vladimir Markin told Tass earlier.

One criminal case was opened over extortion of money from inmates by prison personnel under threats of violence," the spokesman said.

Investigators later searched the apartments of Kopeisk prison officials within the probe into the criminal case against them.

The SK searched apartments of Kopeisk prison staff last week, including Mekhanov's apartment and retrieved hard evidence related to the investigation into the criminal case.

An SK group that worked at the Kopeisk prison, took more than 120 reports from inmates, many of which claimed that prison staff had extorted from them the sums ranging from 5,000 to 90,000 roubles in the period from 2008 through November 2012, under the threat of creating hard prison conditions or use of physical violence.

Members of the presidential council for human rights and civil society development /SPCh/ who visited the Kopeisk penitentiary after the riot said they had found evidence that inmates had been abused.

After the November 24 riot, Mekhanov, his deputy Yevgeny Zyakhor, and 15 personnel of the regional department of the Federal Penitentiary System /GUFSIN/ were disciplined. The regional department of the Investigative Committee is continuing to look into the reasons behind the disobedience action.

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