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Former Defence Minister partly answers investigators’ questions – lawyer

January 11, 2013, 17:14 UTC+3

Serdyukov left the office of the investigator in the status of a witness, Genrikh Padva stressed

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MOSCOW, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Friday answered questions of the investigator within the Oboronservis case, refusing to answer only part of the questions, the ex-minister’s lawyer Genrikh Padva told Itar-Tass.

“The information that Serdyukov refused to answer all the questions of the investigator, is incorrect. At the questioning today he answered a number of questions of the investigator, but only to a limited extent, those questions that he considered right,” said Padva.

The lawyer stressed that Serdyukov left the office of the investigator in the status of a witness. “Serdyukov remains a witness and any other status is out of the question, we also know nothing about the intention of the investigation to summon him for another questioning,” Padva said.

Earlier, Russian Investigative Committee (SK) spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass that the former defence minister refused to testify in the Oboronservis case.

“Today, former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, along with his lawyer timely arrived for questioning to the Main Military Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia and submitted to the investigator several sheets of paper with his explanations in which he outlined his version of the sale of property of the Defence Ministry. However, the former minister refused to testify verbally, referring to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which, as you know, gives the citizens the right not to incriminate themselves of their close relatives,” said the SK official.

He explained that every citizen has the right to choose his line in a criminal case. “Serdyukov has chosen this path. It is certainly legitimate, but for the investigation it is at least puzzling,” Markin said.

He recalled that just recently the former leadership of the RF Defence Ministry has pledged to help in all possible way the investigation to clarify the circumstances of the criminal activity and establish the scope of officials and businessmen involved in the theft of property of the Ministry of Defence. “In this situation, the investigation may regard the position of the former defence minister as his attempt to obstruct the investigation,” said Markin.

In his view, if the former defence minister believes that he is not involved in the events that are currently being investigated, it would be quite logical for him to answer concrete questions of the investigators. “But Mr. Serdyukov together with the lawyer found that it would be easier to outline in a free form a version of the events advantageous for him, and not to answer the investigators’ uncomfortable questions on the merits,” said the Investigative Committee spokesman.

“However, the investigation has a lot of questions to Serdyukov on how decisions were made on the sale of real estate of the Ministry of Defence, why the transactions were made at certain prices,” said Markin.

“Having not received answers to any of these questions, the investigators will be establishing criminal episodes and collect related evidence by the operational search action. We need to conduct a lot of complicated expert examinations, to question witnesses, to conduct many other necessary investigative actions. It is quite possible that the procedural status of Anatoly Serdyukov during the investigation may change,” said the SK official.







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