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Primorsky territorial court sentences local crime lord to life in prison

April 28, 2014, 8:51 UTC+3 VLADIVOSTOK

Six defendants in the so-called Primorye guerillas case are accused of robberies and murders

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Alexander Kovtun

Alexander Kovtun

© ITAR-TASS/Yuri Smityuk

VLADIVOSTOK, April 28. /ITAR-TASS/. The Primorsky territorial court has sentenced crime lord of a local far eastern "Kirovka gang” Alexander Kovtun to life in prison at a high-security penitentiary on Monday.

Six defendants in the so-called Primorye guerillas case, accused of robberies and murders, made their final statements at the regional court in Russia's Far East on April 3.

Earlier, the defendants — Alexander Kovtun, Vadim Kovtun, Roman Savchenko, Maxim Kirillov, Vladimir Ilyutikov and Alexei Nikitin — made statements before the jurors who had found them guilty.

Ilyutikov and Nikitin were also sentenced to life in prison.

The court took into account several mitigating circumstances in the verdict, including voluntary cooperation with investigators.

Vadim Kovtun and Alexei Nikitin reiterated their position insisting on their innocence. Their lawyers pointed out at numerous contradictions and inaccuracies in the answers of the jurors who had passed a guilty verdict on February 4. The defendants were found guilty of all the main episodes of crimes, including three murders.

The trial lasted almost 18 months.

The case

The investigators said gang members committed several thefts and attacks in small settlements of the Primorye Territory in the spring of 2010. They stole cars, money and hunting rifles. The prosecutors said the gang had attacked police several times, killing two and wounding several others.

Regional authorities launched a sweeping manhunt. The gang's whereabouts were established on June 11, 2010. The gunmen offered armed resistance wounding two policemen. Two gang members committed suicide as police were storming the gang's hideout.

Prosecution demanded life imprisonment for Alexander Kovtun, who the jurors said had set up the gang, as well as for Alexei Nikitin and Vladimir Ilyutikov, who had taken part in all the gang's crimes.

Vadim Kovtun should be sentenced to 15 years in a maximum security prison, Maxim Kirillov to 22 years and Roman Savchenko to 25 years, the prosecutor said.

Compensation suits against the defendants are worth 14 million rubles.

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