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Contract Killings


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Slain underworld hitman Andrew "Benji" Veniamin is believed to be the hired gun who carried out the execution.

Slain underworld hitman Andrew "Benji" Veniamin is believed to be the hired gun who carried out the execution. In opposing bail for Vendetti in the Supreme Court yesterday, Senior-Detective Tim Bell said the accused killer had been under police surveillance since May this year.Sen-Det Bell said it had become apparent Vendetti was well-connected to criminal and sporting identities, including Cousins and gangland figures Mick Gatto and John Kizon.Cousins, 30, officially became a Tiger yesterday after the club selected him with the final pick in the pre-season AFL draft.A hero's welcome awaits him at the club's Punt Rd headquarters today where he will join teammates for a 9am training session."I am very excited about the opportunity," a jubilant Cousins said from Perth last night before flying into Melbourne."I want to thank everyone for what has transpired and I'm talking about my family, especially my Mum and Dad."And I want to thank Richmond and the support from all their fans in the past 48 hours."I can't wait to start training with the players and I'm looking forward to wearing the yellow and black and playing at the MCG."
Premier John Brumby led the chorus of footy fans congratulating the confessed drug user on his comeback."Everybody likes heroes in the AFL and he's been one of those heroes. He's got a chance to be a hero again," Mr Brumby said."He's a very talented footballer and it would be wonderful ... if he can prove to himself and to the public."Coach Terry Wallace said a groundswell of support for Cousins from Richmond fans and players had been instrumental in the club taking a punt on the former Eagle champ."AFL footy is about the game itself, it's about the players who play the game, and it's about the fans who come along to watch the game and I think strongly our decision is based on all three of those things," Wallace said.Cousins' manager Ricky Nixon said it was vital for Cousins to resurrect his career in the AFL's heartland.
"We were pretty keen to get Ben to Melbourne. I won't go into the details as to why, but as part of his rehab," Nixon said.And he said the resurgent Richmond, which won eight out of their last 11 games last season, was the perfect fit.Justice Bernard Bongiorno will rule today on Vendetti's bail application.

Italian police have arrested 94 suspected Mafia gangsters who they claimed were on the brink of creating a command structure under a new godfather

Italian police have arrested 94 suspected Mafia gangsters who they claimed were on the brink of creating a command structure under a new godfather to relaunch Cosa Nostra as a power in the land.In a huge pre-dawn operation, more than 1,000 officers swooped on dozens of addresses in Palermo and around Sicily. Masked officers climbed gates and tore down walls as helicopters hovered, pouncing on known mafiosi, many with long prison terms behind them. Since the 2006 arrest of the top mobster, Bernardo Provenzano, the Sicilian Mafia's ranks have been in disarray and investigators said yesterday's operation had been unleashed as gangsters were planning to reconstitute the so-called "Provincial Commission", a cabinet under a new boss with absolute power. "If that [Provenzano] operation... brought Cosa Nostra to its knees, this prevented it from getting up again," Italy's anti-Mafia prosecutor, Pietro Grasso, told reporters.Yesterday's operation was codenamed Perseus, after the Greek mythological hero who beheaded Medusa, and Mr Grasso said it "severed all the strategically important heads of a new ruling structure that had to deliberate, as it once did, on all serious acts".Historically, the Provincial Commission was the executive body that decided on the Mafia's most notorious atrocities, including the murders of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the investigating magistrates killed by road bombs in 1992. Investigators said a preliminary summit meeting was held on 14 November. From bugged phone conversations, they obtained a full list of those present and those who had sent their apologies, as well as details of the issues discussed and the decisions adopted. The object, as one bugged gangster put it, was to "re-establish Cosa Nostra" in the old style, with a single all-powerful boss, a "capo di capi".While other Italian Mafia outfits – in particular the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra from Campania -- have enjoyed vigorous growth in recent years, the Sicilian Mafia has been floundering since the spectacular arrest of Provenzano. The mobster, known as the Tractor for his propensity to mow people down, had been a wanted man for more than 40 years. For much of that time, he eluded arrest by refusing to use telephone, post, fax or computer, relying solely on minuscule notes typed by him and delivered by a complex network of couriers. When police cracked the code used in the notes, they discovered his hideout and were able to dismantle much of his organisation. As a result, the Sicilian Mafia has been recovering its strength only slowly and with great difficulty.A younger generation of Mafia leaders cast aside Provenzano's reluctance about using the phone, allowing police to amass a huge quantity of wiretap information, the key to yesterday's success.Detectives learnt that the efforts to rebuild the Sicilian Mafia were being supervised from behind bars by Provenzano and his predecessor, Salvatore Riina, the brutal head of the Mob during its most violent phase, who is still regarded as the Mafia's ultimate authority. Riina was arrested in 1993, and is now serving a life sentence for his numerous murders.
The third veteran gangster involved in breathing new life into the Mob was Matteo Messina Denaro from the Trapani, who is still on the run. The three veterans had apparently agreed on the choice of another old-timer, Benedetto Capizzi from the Villagrazia section of Palermo, to be the new boss of bosses.
Investigators said Operation Perseus had taken nine months and that its denouement had been brought forward when they learned from wiretaps that one of the "families" within the Palermo Mafia – Porta Nuova – objected to the choice of Capizzi as the new head of the organisation. As a result, police feared a killing spree and the outbreak of a new Mafia civil war.Investigators said many of those arrested yesterday had recently been released from prison on health grounds, and were serving out their sentences under house arrest. They held clandestine gang meetings in Palermo's municipal hospitals, the only place outside their homes where they were allowed to spend time under the terms of their release.

Blackwater Worldwide was involved in the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians last year

Blackwater Worldwide was involved in the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians last year, should be dismissed by the US Government, an advisory panel to the State Department said yesterday. In a report commissioned by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, the panel called for Blackwater’s contract not to be renewed when it expires next year, leaving the decision of what to do with the security firm to President-elect Barack Obama. Dr Rice ordered a review last September of the State Department’s large-scale use of private security firms in Iraq, after the 17 civilians were killed in Baghdad. Last week the US Justice Department said that five guards who had been working for Blackwater and gave themselves up in Utah have been charged with manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and weapons violations.
A sixth guard pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter — a killing in the heat of the moment with no prior planning — and attempt to commit manslaughter.
The multiple deaths on September 16, 2007, highlighted the huge number of private security guards employed by the State Department to protect diplomats, visiting politicians and Iraqi Government officials in Iraq. On that day the Blackwater guards were escorting State Department officials through central Baghdad when they fired on other civilians after killing the occupants of a car that had approached a blockade. US prosecutors say that the car posed no threat and that the subsequent shootings were unprovoked. The five defendants say that they acted in self-defence.
Between 2005 and September 2007 Blackwater security staff were involved in 195 shooting incidents in Iraq; in 163 of those cases Blackwater personnel fired first.
Patrick Rowan, of the Justice Department, said: “While there were dangers in Baghdad in September 2007, there were also ordinary people going about their lives, performing mundane daily tasks. [This] indictment and guilty plea should serve as a reminder that those who engage in illegal attacks on civilians in times of conflict or peace will be held accountable.” If Blackwater is dropped next year, it is not clear how it will be replaced. The department relies heavily on private security guards. There are an estimated 30,000 in Iraq and Ryan Crocker, the US Ambassador in Bagdhad, told Congress last year: “There is simply no way at all that the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security could ever have enough full-time personnel to staff the security function in Iraq.” Blackwater has won more than $1 billion (£650 million) in government contracts under the Bush Administration, a large portion of which has been for work in Iraq. The recommendation does not affect Blackwater contracts outside Iraq but a decision to end the company’s role there will pose proble

four gangland-style killings in October, Croatia's powerful - and previously largely negated - underworld flexed its muscle

four gangland-style killings in October, Croatia's powerful - and previously largely negated - underworld flexed its muscle and sent the authorities scurrying for emergency measures. Ivana Hodak, 26, beautiful celebrity daughter of a socialite lawyer defending powerful clients with lots of enemies, was slain in broad daylight in central Zagreb on October 6. A professional hitman coolly walked off after delivering the fatal shots to her head and neck - all this in broad daylight and not even 100 metres from the main police precinct. On October 23, a bomb killed Ivo Pukanic, an influential journalist and publisher with friends in the elite as much as the underworld - though nowadays the two worlds are not necessarily separated. A close friend died alongside him like collateral damage. Ahead of these killings, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader would have responded angrily when asked about organized crime, insisting there was no such thing in his country. After Hodak's murder, however, Sanader made his first-ever public reference to "mafia," though somewhat clumsily: "We are no longer going to put up with organized crime and the mafia." He then fired interior and justice ministers and and the head of police. Following the Pukanic killings, Sanader promised: "Zagreb will not become Beirut ... I want to state clearly - nobody from the criminal milieu will be able to sleep calmly.
"It is us or them. This is terrorism," President Stjepan Mesic said after Pukanic was killed, who was his personal friend. But that very day, another mafia murder - that time of a less-known member of the Zagreb jet-set and a shadowy businessman, was found parked in his jeep and with a bullet in his head. Why Croatian leaders appeared so surprised and suddenly outraged, remains unclear as roughly 80 other killings in the capital have remained unresolved from the previous 10 years.
Although the motive of the Pukanic and other killings has not yet been determined clearly, police has uncovered am extended business of "Murder-on demand". Pukanic's killing was carried out by two Serbs working on a contract by an unidentified party in Croatia. "We could describe that as 'Murders Incorporated," an unidentified high-ranking state security official told the Jutarnji List daily. "You order a murder and they do it, regardless of who the target is. The scheme is believed to involve the entire Balkans region including Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo and beyond, and involve other criminal activities such as the heroin trade, according to police. And Croats finally had to accept that the tentacles of organized crime penetrated their own society just as well as other countries in the region. Those tentacles date from Croatia's 1991-95 independence war with Yugoslavia and Serb insurgents. The state - then under an arms embargo - turned to black marketeers and criminals to help it smuggle weapons for the fledgling army, in a multi-billion dollar business. Many of the newly rich, their fortune expanded through trafficking of drugs, cigarettes, people and anything else on top of weapons, were also given a badge of social acceptance for their services. A decade-and-a-half later, criminals have emerged as businessmen with millions laundered through construction, sports and even fine art collections. With a foe that rich, ruthless and legally clean, the state is virtually helpless, even state prosecutor Mladen Bajic admitted in confidential report to Sanader and Mesic that was leaked on October 19. Following its initial accumulation of wealth, organized crime "permeated all pores of Croatian society," Bajic warned. "Mobsters became respectable businessmen. The assessment was a hard blow to Croatia's carefully nurtured image of a country which righteously fought a righteous war and remained clean in the process.

Ex professional rugby league player Mark Webster had drunk more than 10 pints when he knocked Jason Hale unconscious with a single blow

Ex professional rugby league player Mark Webster had drunk more than 10 pints when he knocked Jason Hale unconscious with a single blow before stamped on him. Mr Hale's relatives sobbed in court yesterday as they watched CCTV of the WakefieldPrison officer deliver the blow which left him with devastating brain injuries. Webster, 38, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the attack outside the Black Sawn, Normanton, near Wakefield. Judge James Stewart told him: "You were at the time of this incident a serving prison officer. "That means you were expected to be able to deal with your fellow man who misbehaves in a violent way." He added: "But on this day you were drunk. Drinking in excess disinhibits and causes people to behave in a way in which they would not ordinarily behave. "Binge drinking is the scourge of our society. Town centres become no-go areas. "Frequently violence erupts outside public houses as indeed on this night." Leeds Crown Court heard how Webster, a former Wakefield Wildcats prop, had played for amateur side Normanton Knights in a Challenge Cup play-off match against East Hull on the day of the incident. Mr Hale, 37, of Netheroyd, Streethouse, was among a group of fans who joined players drinking at the club after the match in the early afternoon before moving onto nearby pubs.
Jonathan Devlin, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court how there was an initial incident inside the Black Swan when a fight erupted after a racist remark was made to an Asian woman. Mr Hale had hit his head on a table during the trouble and was trampled on inside the pub. The court heard how someone had also punched Webster during the incident as he tried to act as peacemaker, causing him to lose his composure. Mr Devlin said Mr Hale, who was also heavily drunk and had taken cocaine, suffered his fatal injuries outside the pub when he raised his hands to Webster in a "mock fight" gesture. The barrister said his behaviour could not have been construed as a aggressive because he was so drunk. Mr Devlin said: "Without any warning the defendant then struck Jason Hale to the head with a blow. The force of which rendered him unconscious immediately."
After the footage was played in court he added: "What is clear is that the defendant aimed a blow with his foot at Jason Hale as he lay on the ground. The prosecution say he was unconscious and quite clearly defenceless and unable to tense himself or prevent injury from the blow." Mr Hale suffered a fractured skull as well as damage to internal organs from the stamp. His life support machine was switched off the next day, on February 25 this year, as his injuries were inoperable.The court heard the how his death had devastated his family, including his two teenage children, partner and stepson.Simon Bourne-Arton, mitigating, said Webster had walked into Wood Street police station in Wakefield the day after Mr Hale's death and admitted his role in the incident.He said Webster felt "worthless" for taking another man's life.
The lawyer added that Webster, who has a young daughter, had no previous convictions and acted out of character.He said his career in the Prison Service was over and any jail term would prove difficult to serve because of his former job.

UN court sentenced a former Rwandan military officer to life in prison

UN court sentenced a former Rwandan military officer to life in prison on Thursday for organizing of 1994 genocide, according to agencies.The Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) accused former army colonel Theoneste Bagosora of being having masterminded the 1994 Rwandan genocide, said reports."Bagosora is guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and war crimes," the ICTR said.Bagosora would appeal the verdict, his lawyer said after the sentence.
The UN tribunal last month got its mandate extended by the United Nations Security Council to the end of next year instead of to the end of this year to allow it hear all pending cases of genocide suspects.The tribunal was established in 1995 to prosecute suspects of the 1994 Rwanda genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives.
Though the United Nations had an agreement with Tanzania that no convicted person should remain on the host country's soil, there are now still 17 convicted persons who are waiting for a host country.The massacres took place in 1994 after the Rwandan president's plane was mysteriously shot down over Kigali as he returned home from peace talks with Tutsi-led rebels.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Police in Chicago are confirming that they have recovered the weapon that was used to kill Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.

Police in Chicago are confirming that they have recovered the weapon that was used to kill Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. The weapon in question is the .45-caliber gun that was discovered Wednesday in a vacant lot near where the body of Hudson's nephew was found a few days earlier. The body of Julian King was found in the back of a SUV in a West Side neighborhood. Last Friday, the bodies of Hudson's mom and brother were found in the family's home. Police superintendent Jody Weis says the weapon has been positively identified through forensic exams as the weapon used to kill all three. Weis says while police are glad they have been able to link the weapon to the shootings, there is still much work left in solving the case. Nobody has been charged in the killings. However, the estranged husband of Hudson's sister is in custody on a parole violation. Police have called William Balfour a "person of interest" in the case.

Sharon Collins found guilty of soliciting an Egyptian-born poker dealer to carry out the killings of her partner

Sharon Collins from Kildysart Road Ennis was found guilty in July this year.She was also found guilty of soliciting an Egyptian-born poker dealer to carry out the killings of her partner PJ Howard and his two sons, Robert and Niall.The seven-week trial heard how she searched the Internet for a contract killer and paid a €15,000 deposit to have her partner and his sons murdered.The jury found Essam Eid guilty of demanding money with menace from Robert Howard and of handling stolen goods.During the trial, Collins told the court she was not 'lyingeyes98' - the name of the email account used to hire a hitman

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Pakistani man says his 17-year-old daughter was mauled by dogs and shot to death in front of him over a land dispute disguised as "honour Killing"

Pakistani man says his 17-year-old daughter was mauled by dogs and shot to death in front of him over a land dispute disguised as a so-called "honour killing."The girl's father claims that the tribal council chaired by a local chieftain declared his daughter an adulterer in May to mask the land-grab and the involvement of others.
Female senators in Pakistan are staging a walkout from the federal parliament to press for action on better protections for women after a national newspaper published details of the girl's death.Human rights groups say hundreds of women are killed by male relatives every year in Pakistan for alleged infidelity or other perceived slights to the family name.Activists say many more cases go unreported.
In August, a Pakistani legislator drew fierce criticism after describing a case in which five women were allegedly buried alive for trying to choose their husbands as the product of "centuries-old traditions" that he would defend.In both cases, the allegations surrounding the women's deaths remain unproven.Pakistan's government, now led by the liberal party of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has vowed to improve women's rights in Pakistan.

Former president Pervez Musharraf had made similar moves despite opposition from hardline Islamic groups.

FBI is seeking the capture of Yaser Abdel Said for a double “honor killing.”

FBI is seeking the capture of Yaser Abdel Said for a double “honor killing.” Muslim groups are opposed to the use of the term, but the evidence appears to support the theory that the killings were due to the father’s “shame” that his daughters Sarah Said, 17, and Amina, 18, were dating non-Muslims. Both were killed on New Year’s Day in the back of a taxis in Lewisville, Texas believe that Yaser Abdel Said, 50, shot his daughters Sarah Yaser Said, 17, and Amina Yaser Said, 18, in his taxi as an honor killing. It is not clear whether this was the motive. Such a honor killing would follow an equally disturbing case involving a homicidal father and the Indian caste system.Friends have said that Yaser Said had moved to the area because of his disapproval of his oldest daughter’s boyfriend.
A local Austin imam condemned the murders on the tribute page. However, their brother insisted that the deaths have nothing to do with religion. The media is quoting experts who may be a bit to quick to declare such a motive.Brigitte Gabriel, author of “Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America,” said the shootings point to an “honor killing.” “This crime has honor killing written all over it,” Gabriel said. “The father was insulted and ashamed of how his daughters were behaving.” The daughters were bringing shame to Islam and the father took it upon himself to respond, Gabriel said. “The father probably was seeing that this is going to bring shame on the family and he needed to eliminate that shame,” Gabriel said. If it was an honor killing, it follows another father’s killing of his daughter, son-in-law, and baby. Prosecutors say Subhash Chander, an immigrant from India, used gasoline to burn alive his pregnant daughter, son-in-law and their child because he believed that his daughter married beneath her class.
The family deny that the caste system was behind the murders. However, the father’s account has been reportedly discredited that the fire was some type of accident.
“His son-in-law was beneath him, in his opinion,” prosecutor Robert Milan said of the 57-year-old Chander.He was jailed without bail on charges of murder, arson and intentional homicide of an unborn child in the deaths of 22-year-old Monika Rani, her 36-year-old husband, Rajesh Kumar, and their son, Vansh.The role of the caste system could prove a divisive trial issue. It is the type of motivation that is likely to infuriate an American jury and prejudice them against the defendant. However, there may be sufficient prior statements to allow the introduction of the motivational evidence. For that reason, a plea may be a more likely course for the defendant.

Three past chairmen of the soccer club Lokomotiv Plovdiv have been killed, one by a sniper by the Black Sea.

Three past chairmen of the soccer club Lokomotiv Plovdiv have been killed, one by a sniper by the Black Sea. Seventy-five percent of Bulgarian businesses have security protection, far more than in other countries in Eastern Europe, according to Enterprise Surveys, analysts for the World Bank.As in Russia and some other Balkan nations, corruption has seeped into the fabric of life. Sofia has a thriving black market for blood outside hospitals, where patients’ families haggle over purchases with dealers, according to Bulgarian news reports that track the prices.
The roots of this organized crime date to the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s. Thousands of secret agents and athletes, including wrestlers once supported and coddled by the state, were cast onto the street. During the United Nations embargo of warring Serbia in the 1990s, they seized smuggling opportunities and solidified their networks.The wrestlers, in particular, developed private security forces and insurance companies that were little more than shakedown protection rackets. Other men became shadowy entrepreneurs with close ties to the government.
In the past five years, Bulgaria has weathered machine gun assassinations and inventive daylight attacks. Hitmen disguised themselves as drunks and Orthodox priests. In 2004, a bomb planted atop an elevator in central Sofia was detonated by cellphone, killing a businessman and three bodyguards.The toll now tops more than 125 contract killings since 1993, according to a list compiled by the United States Embassy in Sofia, which does not include at least four people killed this year, including the head of an energy company. Most of the killings are unsolved.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Federal prosecutors charged two men with plotting a “killing spree” against African-Americans

Federal prosecutors charged two men with plotting a “killing spree” against African-Americans that would have been capped with an attempt to kill Sen. Barack Obama while they wore white tuxedos, federal officials said Monday.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Jackson, Tennessee, said Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were self-described white supremacists who met online through a mutual friend.
Both men have been charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate.
The men planned to kill more than 100 African-Americans, including 14 who would be beheaded, according to the affidavit. But federal law enforcement sources said there was no evidence Cowart, of Bells, Tennessee, and Schlesselman, of West Helena, Arkansas, had any details of Obama’s schedule.
“We take this very, very seriously but we see no evidence these guys have the ability or the wherewithal to pull off what they say they wanted to do,” one law enforcement source said.
According to an affidavit from the federal agent who questioned them, Cowart and Schlesselman planned to charge at Obama with a car, firing from the windows as they went. They would be dressed in white tuxedos and top hats during the attempt, the affidavit states.
Cowart and Schlesselman were arrested outside Jackson, about 75 miles east of Memphis, Tennessee, after an aborted robbery attempt last week, according to court records.
Though they told investigators they would be willing to die in their mission, the men backed out of their October 21 attempt to rob the gun dealer after spotting two cars and a dog at the home, the affidavit states. The men also shot out the window of a church on their way back to Cowart’s grandfather’s home, where they were arrested the next day.
Cowart and Schlesselman made their initial appearances before a federal judge Monday and are scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday in Memphis.
Obama, an Illinois Democrat, is the first African-American nominee to lead a major-party ticket and was placed under Secret Service protection in May 2007, far earlier than other candidates.
Eric Zahren, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said it was unclear whether the suspects would have had the capability or means to carry out any sort of plot. But he said the matter was being taken seriously, and a joint investigation was under way.
There was no indication either had attended any Obama event or had drawn Secret Service attention in the past, Zahren said.
Campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass said, “We never comment on security matters.”
Threats against Obama have led to arrests in two previous cases. In one, federal prosecutors concluded that the three people arrested with drugs and weapons in a suburban Denver motel posed a “true threat” to the candidate.
In the second, a Florida man was charged with threatening bodily harm against the candidate in August. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kidnappers killed five Chinese oil workers on Monday whom they had been holding hostage in central Sudan

Kidnappers killed five Chinese oil workers on Monday whom they had been holding hostage in central Sudan for more than a week, the Foreign Ministry said. Nine Chinese oil workers had been kidnapped, the ministry said. Two escaped on Monday, and two are still being held. The ministry said a Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, was responsible for the kidnapping and killings. An official of the group based in London denied that it was involved. The workers were seized near a small oil field in the state of South Kordofan, which borders Darfur, where they were working under contract for a Chinese-led oil consortium. A ministry spokesman said the kidnappers had demanded that Chinese oil companies leave the region.

Alexei Frenkel had acted out of revenge when he ordered the killing of Andrei Kozlov, the 41-year-old deputy head of Russia's central bank

A Russian businessman was found guilty on Tuesday of ordering the murder of a top Russian central banker who led a campaign against money-laundering and corruption.
The state prosecutor said Alexei Frenkel had acted out of revenge when he ordered the killing of Andrei Kozlov, the 41-year-old deputy head of Russia's central bank who had revoked Frenkel's banks' licences.Kozlov was shot dead in September 2006 as he left an amateur soccer match in Moscow.It was one of the highest-profile killings of then President Vladimir Putin's presidency, reviving memories of Russia's wild capitalism and contract killings of the 1990s.jury on Tuesday found banker Alexei Frenkel guilty of ordering the 2006 killing of central banker Andrei Kozlov after an eight-month trial mired in scandal.The verdict apparently came as a surprise to Frenkel, who smiled and waved to waiting relatives right before the verdict was announced. He also ordered a taxi to take him home, state television reported.
After 5 1/2 hours of deliberations, the Moscow City Court jury convicted Frenkel and six other suspects in connection with Kozlov's contract-style murder, which sent shockwaves through the financial community. Kozlov, first deputy head of the Central Bank, had led a campaign against money laundering and stripped hundreds of banks of their licenses, including four banks linked to Frenkel, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova said the court would convene Thursday to hand down sentences. Frenkel, 36, who has maintained his innocence, faces a sentence of up to life in prison.The jury convicted four Ukrainians — Bogdan Pogorzhevsky, Alexander Belokopytov, Alexei Polovinkin and Maxim Proglyada — of carrying out the killing and illegal weapon possession and Moscow residents Liana Askerova and Boris Shafrai of being accessories to the murder. The jury asked for leniency for Pogorzhevsky, who admitted his guilt and testified against the other suspects, and Belokopytov, who they said played a minor role in the killing.Prosecutor Gyulchakhra Ibragimova expressed satisfaction with the verdict. "Frenkel wanted to be tried by a jury. The jury said clearly that he was guilty of organizing Kozlov's murder," Ibragimova told reporters."The motive for the crime was revenge," she added.Frenkel's lawyer, Ruslan Koblev, promised to appeal. "We'll file an appeal to the European court in any case irrespective of the verdict, because in our opinion the violations made by the court and the prosecution in this process have surpassed all possible limits," Koblev said in televised remarks outside the courtroom.Frenkel's relatives eagerly clustered outside the court Tuesday to wait for the verdict in the closed-door trial. When the door was opened just before the jury delivered its verdict, Frenkel smiled and waved to his relatives from the glass-enclosed defendant's cage, apparently confident that he would be freed. "I think the jury will acquit him on the basis of their humanity," Frenkel's brother Mikhail said. "They wouldn't put such a sin on their souls."Kozlov's widow read a book in the hall as she waited for the verdict. She refused to speak to reporters.It was unclear how the jury had voted; by law, only a majority is needed to reach a verdict. The court spokeswoman said the verdict had been "nearly unanimous," while the prosecutor said later that it had been unanimous.
Three jurors were removed and charged with wrongdoing in July in what defense lawyers have denounced as a move by prosecutors to tip the jury in their favor. One of the unidentified jurors was charged with attempted obstruction of justice after he tried to bribe fellow jurors to declare Frenkel not guilty, while the others were charged with drinking in public and talking about the case, respectively.
The judge excused the jury from the courtroom several times while Frenkel made his closing remarks Thursday.Frenkel accused prosecutors and the court of not giving him a chance to prove his innocence. "I haven't even been given a possibility to present proof of my innocence, which I have a lot of," Frenkel said Thursday.
Investigators said Frenkel, whose banks included Sodbiznesbank and VIP-Bank, lost billions of rubles as a result of Kozlov's decisions to revoke their licenses. Frenkel was arrested in January 2007. The Central Bank's actions prompted some State Duma deputies to complain in February 2007 that licenses had been revoked without just cause in some cases and to call for the Central Bank's powers to be curbed. Their request was formally reviewed but later dropped. In March, Frenkel suggested that Central Bank first deputy head Viktor Melnikov might be behind the killing.
The Central Bank has declined to comment on the allegation.
Kozlov, 41, and his driver were shot dead by two gunmen with automatic pistols as Kozlov was exiting the Spartak sports complex on Sept. 13, 2006. Kozlov had been at the complex in northeast Moscow to participate in a friendly football match with other members of the banking community. It was one of the highest-profile killings during Vladimir Putin's eight-year presidency.In another scandal connected to the trial, two investigators who helped compile the court case against Frenkel were arrested in June on suspicion of trying to exhort a 1.5 million euro ($1.8 million) bribe from another private banker in return for protection. The two investigators, Dmitry Tselyakov and Alexander Nosenko of the Interior Ministry department responsible for fighting organized crime and terrorism, targeted Inkredbank vice president Pyotr Chuvilin, who is also the general director of the Spartak ice hockey club.The jury found Frenkel guilty of ordering Kozlov's killing after deliberations of more than five hours at the Moscow City Court. Along with Frenkel, six others were convicted of charges related to the murder.Kozlov, in a crusade against money-laundering and corruption, revoked the licences of dozens of banks, the court was told."The motive for the crime was revenge," said state prosecutor Gulchekhra Ibragimova, adding that Frenkel had lost four of the banks he controlled due to Kozlov's tough actions."Kozlov was an enemy of shady dealers like Frenkel," she told journalists outside the court. "I believe the verdict is just."Ibragimova said sentences would be pronounced at the end of this week.The jurors decided to ask the court to mitigate the sentences of two of the seven found guilty, because they had cooperated with the investigation and admitted their guilt.Defence lawyers said one of the two had bought the pistol with which Kozlov was killed, while the other was the driver of the killers' getaway car.Defence lawyers said they would appeal the jurors' decision.Frenkel, who strongly denied all accusations, had ordered a driver to pick him up at the court, apparently confident he would be acquitted, Russian media reported.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Kazuyoshi Miura,hanged himself with his shirt in a downtown jail cell only hours after arriving to face trial

A Japanese businessman charged with plotting the murder of his wife in Los Angeles 27 years ago hanged himself with his shirt in a downtown jail cell only hours after arriving to face trial, police said Saturday.Kazuyoshi Miura, 61, was alone in his cell at downtown police headquarters when a detention officer found him at 9:45 p.m. Friday _ just 10 minutes after a routine cell inspection had found nothing unusual, Chief of Detectives Charlie Beck said at a news conference Saturday."It was apparent that the murder suspect, alone in his cell, had used a piece of his shirt as a makeshift ligature around his neck," Beck said.Officers rushed into the cell and gave Miura cardiopulmonary resuscitation while medical personnel from the dispensary were summoned. Miura did not respond to treatment and was pronounced dead at USC Medical Center, Beck said.Miura had arrived in Los Angeles early Friday morning after a trip from the U.S. commonwealth of Saipan, where he had been held since his February arrest on a 1988 Los Angeles County warrant alleging murder and conspiracy.He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday."I'm shocked," Miura's attorney, Mark Geragos, told The Associated Press in a telephone call from Italy. "One of my lawyers was with him for 12 hours yesterday, and he seemed in good spirits. He was looking forward to fighting this."Beck declined to answer questions about the motive for the apparent suicide and what the death means to investigators, who had pursued Miura for decades. He said that both he and Detective Rick Jackson, who was on the plane that returned Miura to the United States, were "shocked and disappointed."

Kazuyoshi Miura,accused of conspiring to have his wife killed

Kazuyoshi Miura, 61, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 5 a.m. on a flight from Saipan that stopped in Guam and Honolulu.Miura was arrested in February while visiting Saipan, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific, after cold case detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department worked with authorities there. He was arrested on a 1988 Los Angeles County warrant alleging murder and conspiracy, but the murder charge has been dropped.It was the first time Miura had set foot in the continental United States since the warrant was issued, police Detective Rick Jackson said."He was very cooperative," Jackson said."I was happy to see him in person. I had never seen him in person before," said Jackson, a member of the LAPD's cold-case squad. "It was a good feeling because you wait 20 years to take someone into custody."Miura was taken onto the plane in handcuffs but those were removed when the plane had taken off, Japanese television reporter Misako Yamamoto said.
Miura was booked into jail and is being held without bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and could face 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.Miura was accused of plotting to have his wife killed during a visit the couple made to Los Angeles in 1981. They were shot on Nov. 18 as they stood taking photos by a downtown parking lot. Miura was hit in the leg, and his wife, Kazumi Miura, 28, was shot in the head. She died of her wounds a year later in Japan.The incident caused an international furor because it reinforced Japanese stereotypes of violence in the U.S. at a time when the city was preparing for the 1984 Olympics and was particularly sensitive about its overseas image.
Miura, a clothing importer who traveled regularly to the U.S., had said he would write then-President Ronald Reagan and then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and urge them to make the city safer.But Los Angeles County prosecutors contended Miura wanted his wife dead so he could collect about $750,000 on her life insurance policies.
They argued that he signaled someone to shoot the couple, although no one else has been charged.After the 1988 arrest warrant was issued, prosecutors in Los Angeles decided to work with Japanese authorities instead of trying to have him extradited. He was convicted of murder in Japan in 1994 but the verdict ultimately was overturned and Japan's highest court issued an acquittal.On Sept. 26, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen in Torrance ruled although the conspiracy case against Miura could proceed, trying him for murder in California would violate a law against double jeopardy.Several Japanese journalists accompanied Miura on the flight from Saipan. The case has attracted extensive media attention in Japan, where it was dubbed the "Japanese O.J. case."Miura had fought extradition but agreed to return to Los Angeles after the murder charge was dismissed — although conviction on either charge would carry the same sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Jackson and other authorities arrived in Saipan Tuesday to arrange for Miura's extradition."We carry the torch for the victim," Jackson said.Jackson said that during the investigation he spent time with the mother of Miura's wife in Japan.
"We went out and visted the grave as a matter of respect with her mother," he said. "That's what moves us to keep working on these cases after many years."
On Thursday, county prosecutors filed court papers seeking reinstatement of the murder charge. The 25-page motion argued that the law did not recognize convictions or acquittals outside of the United States.

Joseph R. Chrislaw charged with two counts of soliciting first-degree intentional homicide.

Joseph R. Chrislaw Sr. 46, of 733 Kellogg Ave., No. 3, Janesville, is charged with two counts of soliciting first-degree intentional homicide. He was bound over for trial Friday in a preliminary hearing. Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.Chrislaw remains in custody at the Rock County Jail in lieu of $30,000 cash bond—$15,000 on each charge. His next court date has not been scheduled.Chrislaw tried to a hire a hit man from the Hells Angels motorcycle gang to kill his estranged wife, Inna M. Cheremisina, 34, and her boyfriend, Janesville City Councilman Yuri Rashkin, 33, the criminal complaint against him charges.Janesville police officer Richard Mussey testified that he posed as a contract killer from the Hells Angels and met with Chrislaw to arrange the murders and take money for them.Mussey testified that he met Chrislaw once face to face in the parking lot of a Janesville bar and that Chrislaw handed him a stack of cash.Mussey said he asked the amount and Chrislaw said, “Two.”
“I said, ‘Two grand?’” Mussey testified. “He said ‘yes.’”But in cross-examination, Chrislaw’s defense attorney—Bob Junig of Beloit—asked Mussey if he had a subsequent phone conversation with Chrislaw. After the officer replied yes, Junig asked if Chrislaw expressed any second thoughts about the deal.“What he told me was that it couldn’t be this weekend,” Mussey said.“Did he tell you at any point to just keep the money and forget it?” Junig asked.“Yes,” the officer replied.Junig then established that the phone conversation had been recorded.Assistant district attorney Tom White told the court that withdrawal from an agreement is a proper defense for a conspiracy charge but not a proper defense for a solicitation charge, which is what Chrislaw is accused of.“Why did he need more time?” White asked Mussey.
“I asked him (Chrislaw) was it the alibi, and he said yes,” Mussey replied. “I said I got the 2,000 bucks and I’m not sticking around.”Before Mussey testified, Ken Petersen of Janesville testified that Chrislaw approached him about contacting the Hells Angels to hire a hit man to “whack” his estranged wife and her boyfriend.Chrislaw told him the murders would have to be on a weekend because that’s when Rashkin’s daughter would be out of the home staying with her mother, Petersen testified.Junig asked Petersen if Chrislaw got cold feet about the killings.
“I asked him several times if he was sure, and to my recollection, he was,” Petersen said.Junig asked Petersen if Chrislaw ever mentioned calling it off.
“No,” Petersen said.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Mark Benschop, who has alleged that he was informed that persons were contracted to kill him.

Acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene has expressed concerns over allegations of persons being contracted to kill others.
The top cop has since launched investigations into such allegations.
This follows a two-hour meeting with Mark Benschop, who has alleged that he was informed that persons were contracted to kill him.
According to an article that appeared on Benschop’s website,, the community activist, who was once charged for treason, has learnt of a plot to kill him but has chosen not to report the matter to the police, since he believes that the force cannot be trusted.
Benschop alleges that a man went to his Robb Street office and informed him that money has been paid to have him killed.
In a press release issued last evening, the police said that, cognizant of an article in the print media on Friday, which stated that community activist Mark Benschop had said that a man had gone to his office and informed him that money had been paid to kill him, and that he had chosen not to report the matter to the police, the acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Henry Greene, has since met with Mark Benschop.
The police said that Benschop related his concerns for his own safety, based on the reports he had received that persons had been contracted to take his life.
The police say that efforts are also being made to locate trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, who has said publicly that he was fearful for his life, after attempts were made by persons to enter his home, and who appears to have gone into hiding.
Lewis has also expressed his reluctance to report the matter to the police.
In an invited comment late last night, Benschop told this newspaper that, despite his meeting with the top cop, he is still concerned about the negative public perception of the police and the Commissioner himself.
According to Benschop, he is unwilling to name the ‘drug lords’ who are allegedly involved in the plot to kill him.
However, he indicated that he has disclosed the names of these persons to other law enforcement agencies outside of Guyana.
“As such, I have expressed to the Commissioner of Police my disappointment about how the police force handles these matters. I also expressed to him that there are still some contract killings in Guyana,” Benschop told this newspaper.
He said that the threat to his life is something that he is taking very seriously.
“This is no publicity stunt. I have all the publicity I want to last for a lifetime. I don’t need this kind of publicity,” Benschop said.
He indicated that he believes that the Police Commissioner has acknowledged that the threat is real.
“He has to take a position on these phantom killers. Rein them in! I also spoke about rogue cops who are also a part of the phantom killers,” he added.
Benschop said that his meeting with the commissioner was as a result of a request by the top cop, and, as such, he used the opportunity to let Greene know about his concerns.
Last week veteran trades unionist Lincoln Lewis had expressed similar sentiments about trusting the Guyana Police Force, following allegations that his home was visited by unknown characters, forcing him to flee to safety

100 police officers staged a raid against the Hariri crime family in Umm el-Fahm

100 police officers staged a raid against the Hariri crime family in Umm el-Fahm on Wednesday morning. The police searched three buildings owned by the infamous clan, known for their involvement in protection rackets and arms dealing, police said.
"This is directly linked to the upswing in criminal activity in Netanya, and we believe that some members of the Hariri crime family have been helping the Netanya mobsters in their ongoing feuds," Sharon District Police spokesman Yitzhak Shemer said. Shemer said he was not at liberty to discuss what was uncovered in the raid, but said it was successful. Taking on the Hariri family in Umm el-Fahm, however, is no easy task.The Israeli Arab clan, which police sources have described as a "strong, family-based organization," dominates the underworld in the country's north, and has been accused of gun running, drug dealing, extortion and racketeering, among other crimes. The Hariri name has also been linked to a series of gangland assassinations in recent years, including the June 11 car-bombing death of Tel Aviv attorney Yoram Haham, who was involved in a case that ended with the conviction of several Hariri family members. Umm el-Fahm is also regarded as somewhat hostile by security forces. Police raided an Islamic center in the city last month, shutting the center down for alleged ties to terrorist activity. These are some of the reasons a large force was deployed in the area on Wednesday. Police said the sensitivity of the area, combined with the number of buildings that needed to be searched, resulted in the "overwhelming force" brought by various police units, including local police officers, special Yasam officers, and members of the National Investigations Unit. Moshe Mizrahi, the former head of the police's Investigations Department, said that the Hariri family has long been a major player in the county's organized crime scene, and that pressuring them was the right thing to do. "This is exactly what the police have to do," Mizrahi said. "They have to keep pressure on the large families all of the time and not let up.
"Just like the security forces work against terrorists around the clock, we have to do the same thing with organized crime." Mizrahi also said police were likely looking for weapons in the Hariri-owned buildings on Wednesday, echoing assertions that the clan is known for their sales of arms to various crime syndicates across the country. "They've also begun teaming up with other families," Mizrahi said. "There's been more and more cooperation between certain groups, and the map of those relationships is known to police." Mizrahi said that one outcome of such cooperation is a greater ability to build alliances in mob feuds and engage in contract killings throughout the country. "Let's say [a particular crime family] wants to take someone out in Jerusalem, well, they approach the right people who have a guy in Jerusalem, and they can get it done, even if they're up north, or somewhere else," he said. Hariri family members have been assassination targets themselves. In 2004 the family's boss, Yihye Hariri, was gunned down outside an auto shop in Taibe, where the family was once based, relocating years ago to Umm el-Fahm and Jaljulia. That hit, apparently part of a feud with the Israeli-Arab Abdel Khader syndicate, brought the two families dangerously close to the brink of an all-out war. Mizrahi stressed that the only way to keep the families from battling in the streets of the country's cities is to constantly crack down on them.
"If we let up, then they'll only have time to get stronger," he said.

James Sullivan, who is serving life in prison for paying a hit man $25,000 to gun down Lita Sullivan.

James Sullivan, who is serving life in prison for paying a hit man $25,000 to gun down Lita Sullivan.The appeal was a last-ditch attempt to toss a 2006 murder conviction against Sullivan. A man carrying a dozen long-stemmed roses shot Lita Sullivan on the doorstep of her Atlanta town house in 1987, on the day of a hearing to discuss property distribution in the couple's divorce.Her death _ and the 19-year effort to prosecute her killer _ is one of the most high-profile cases in modern Atlanta history.James Sullivan's attorneys had argued that a search warrant used to get crucial evidence from Sullivan's $5 million Florida mansion was full of omissions and half-truths and relied on testimony from a confidential informant who had been arrested 38 times. The search yielded a diary and financial documents used in Sullivan's trial.Prosecutors defended the affidavit as "truthful and complete with the best information at the time." They said there was ample reason to search Sullivan's home even without the informant's testimony.In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Harold Melton, the court rejected Sullivan's claims.
"This evidence was sufficient to enable the jury to determine that (the) defendant was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt," he wrote.The case has gone on for more than two decades. In 1992, a federal judge dismissed charges that Sullivan violated interstate commerce laws by arranging his wife's murder through long-distance phone calls. Lita Sullivan's parents later won a $4 million wrongful death lawsuit _ which they say still hasn't been paid _ but James Sullivan wasn't charged with his wife's murder until 1998.
That was when Belinda Trahan told authorities Sullivan paid her ex-boyfriend, a trucker named Phillip Anthony Harwood, $25,000 to kill Lita Sullivan. Harwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser crime.
Sullivan, who fled to Thailand after hearing of Harwood's arrest, was arrested four years later after a local resident spotted him on "America's Most Wanted." Georgia's top court Monday upheld the murder conviction of a millionaire for hiring an assassin posing as a flower delivery man to kill his 35-year-old socialite wife.
The Georgia Supreme Court's unanimous ruling rejected arguments for a new trial from attorneys representing James Sullivan, who is serving life in prison for paying a hit man $25,000 to gun down Lita Sullivan.

Monday, 15 September 2008

13 mercenaries 'Los Rastrojos' killed by the Colombian military

The Colombian military said it had killed 13 mercenaries in clashes with the ultra-right-wing death commando 'Los Rastrojos' in the country's south-west region.
A military spokesman said that the recent clash took place in Argelia, in the province of Cauca. The paramilitary unit was formed after the dissolution of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) starting in 2004, when the government of President Alvero Uribe launched a reconciliation and amnesty programme with AUC.
The new 'Rastrojos' unit went to work for the drug cartel of Norte de Valle after 2004 and is blamed for a number of contract killings. Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, which earns hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Both AUC and the left wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which still operates, have been inextricably linked to the drug trade during decades of the South American country's civil conflict.

Miguel Angel Servando opted for guaranteed life in prison and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Facing a possible death penalty if convicted, one of two men charged in the alleged murder-for-hire of an elderly Troy couple opted for guaranteed life in prison and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Miguel Angel Servando agreed to the plea just before a hearing and trial was to begin. Attorneys said Servando hoped to avoid a possible death sentence in the March 11 contract killings of Brij Chhabra, 65, and his wife, Aasha, 56, in their home. A co-defendant, Nelson Mendoza, who Servando said Monday drove him to Michigan, awaits state charges. Federal murder-for-hire charges in Detroit are pending against two Texans, Narayan Thadani, 60, of Richmond and Doug Tabor, 40, of Houston. A condition of Servando's plea is that he cooperates in all related cases "It's very unusual for someone to plead guilty to life in prison without chance of parole, but it is an effort to avoid the death penalty," assistant Oakland County prosecutor Ken Frazee said later outside the courtroom. "He (Servando) knows a lot about these other men and the roles they played in the case."
The victims were killed because Aasha Chhabra had sought a $2 million inheritance embezzled by Thadani, investigators said. She and Thadani had been childhood friends in their native India and had both moved to the U.S. Several relatives and friends attempted to comfort the victims' daughter, Suman, in the courtroom. As Servando answered questions about what he did on March 11, she buried her face in her hands, knelt forward and sobbed. The family declined to be interviewed. Servando, 41, of Katy, Texas, and Mendoza, 37, of Houston were pulled over on Interstate 94 by Taylor Police for illegal dark tinted windows and rapid lane changes, police said.
When Mendoza consented to a search of the car -- his attorney, Howard Arnkoff, said Mendoza doesn't understand English and could never have given lawful consent -- police said they found a handgun under the passenger seat, a map to the Chhabra home, bloodstained documents and gloves, and Aasha Chhabra's passport.
Troy Police were contacted and went to the Chhabras' home, where officers found the couple found dead from gunshot wounds. Thadani asked his landscaper, Tabor, to find someone willing to kill for pay, and Tabor recruited Servando and Mendoza, both El Salvadoran nationals, according to court documents. Thadani and Tabor, both arrested by the FBI in Texas, are jailed without bond and scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court Sept. 25. Both could receive the death penalty if convicted. In a separate hearing Monday, Mendoza was advised of Servando's plea and that federal charges are pending. Servando will be sentenced on Oct. 24 before Judge Rae Lee Chabot. Although Michigan forbids the death penalty, under federal law, a person can be sentenced to death for certain crimes once transferred to the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

“My personal opinion is that these are so called contract killings,” Focus quoted Dimitrov as saying.

Two men were shot at around 8.35pm near Nikola Vaptsarov Boulevard, the Interior Ministry announced in a media statement.The two were parking a vehicle in front of a residential building when a third man opened fire. The assailant managed to escape after the shooting, according to the ministry’s official reports. One of the victims had managed to alert police after the attack. Both victims are aged 33. They are both hospitalised and their lives are in danger, the ministry’s media statement said.
According to Dnevnik daily, one of the victims was shot in the back of the neck. He had a criminal record for financial and credit crimes and had been fined as a result. The other victim was less seriously wounded. The newspaper quoted unofficial information that there was a third person in the car, who was the actual target of the assault, but who managed to escape.According to, the condition of the second victim, who had been shot seven times in the chest, was more serious. The first victim had been shot in the head but his life was not in danger. The two were attacked while parking a car in front of the residential building where one of them lived, said.The Interior Ministry’s chief secretary Pavlin Dimitrov was quoted as saying that the victims were business partners. One man apparently served as bodyguard to the other. The shooting probably stemmed from a financial dispute, Dimitrov said as quoted by news agency said that one of the victims was shot twice. One of the bullets injured his face, neck and left palm. He was conscious but his life was in danger. The second victim was shot seven times on the right side of the chest. Medics still had to extract two of the bullets. His fourth cervical vertebra was shattered, meaning he could be facing paralysis.
Focus quoted Dimitrov as confirming that one of the victims had a criminal record. Police had not received any tip-offs regarding threats to the victims. Dimitrov denied reports that a third person was in the car.Dimitrov said that he could not speculate on reasons for the assault. The contacts and the acquaintances of the victims were to be clarified. The weapon used in the crime had been identified. The victims were also carrying weapons, but this was legal, Dimitrov told journalists.
The situation in Sofia was dire, Dimitrov said when asked to comment on the fact that it was the city’s second serious attack within two days. Two blasts went off almost simultaneously in bars in Sofia on the evening of September 7 2008, injuring six people, including a pregnant woman. According to police, the bars were illegal brothels.“My personal opinion is that these are so called contract killings,” Focus quoted Dimitrov as saying.

Dominican Police arrested the son of Barahona senator Noe Sterling Vásquez, in connection with the execution of seven men

Dominican Police arrested the son of Barahona senator Noe Sterling Vásquez, in connection with the execution of seven men in Paya, Baní (south), and drug trafficking in the zone. Martin Sterling was turned over to Police by the lawmaker at 8 a.m., after the commission that investigates the massacre linked him to the drug trafficking case said to involve 1,300 kilos of cocaine, which led to the killings of seven Colombians. “He (Martin Sterling) is being interrogated, and if his involvement with the case is verified he’ll be taken to court restrictive measures placed against him,” said a source quoted by newspaper El Dia after the Police interrogation yesterday.Officials and “important” people are investigated in the case, whose names won’t be made public until information found by investigators is verified. In a related development, Armed Forces minister Pedro Rafael Peña yesterday said a military unit protects Peravia province senator Wilton Guerrero, whom drug traffickers have reportedly put out a RD$10 million contract on his life. "We have been providing him the necessary protection to prevent any kind problem with his physical integrity."Interviewed in the National Palace, Peña said the military services are collaborating regarding Guerrero’s denunciations of conspiracy by the Baní authorities with drug traffickers.

list of journalists who have been killed in Russia during the Putin presidency, compiled based on data of Russian-based Glasnost Defense Foundation an

Concern about the killings of Russian journalists in the several years up to 2007 has been voiced in many quarters. Russian authorities have been repeatedly criticized for not arresting and prosecuting the murderers, and critics have noted that many of the journalists killed were critical of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin. [3]list of journalists who have been killed in Russia during the Putin presidency, compiled based on data of Russian-based Glasnost Defense Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists[1] [2] This list consists of journalists who died from all possible reasons.According to Reporters Without Borders, an international organization of journalists, 21 journalists have been murdered since March 2000. In 2007, the International News Safety Institute said Russia was the country with the second largest number of journalists killed in the previous 10 year
Ilyas Shurpayev, Dagestani journalist responsible for news coverage of Northern Caucasus on Channel One, was strangled with a belt in Moscow.[7]
Gaji Abashilov, chief of Dagestan outlet of VGTRK, shot in his car.
Magomed Yevloyev, owner of, shot in police custody[11][12][13].
Abdulla Alishayev, Dagestani journalist fatally wounded by unknown assailants.[14]
Konstantin Brovko, journalist of TV company "Gubernia" (Russian: "Губерния"), killed in Khabarovsk
Ivan Safronov, Military columninst of newspaper "Kommersant". Died in Moscow on March 2 - cause of death disputed.[15]
Vadim Kuznetsov, editor-in-chief of journal "World and home. Saint Petersburg", killed in Saint Petersburg
Vaghif Kochetkov, newspaper Trud (Labor), killed in Tula;
Ilya Zimin, he worked for NTV Russia television channel, killed in Moscow by an acquaintance;
Vyacheslav Akatov, special reporter, "Business Moscow" TV show, killed in Moscow Region;
Anton Kretenchuk, cameraman, 38th TV Channel, killed in Rostov-on-Don;
Yevgeny Gerasimenko, newspaper "Saratovsky Rasklad", Saratov;
Vlad Kidanov, freelance journalist, Cheboksary;
Alexander Petrov, editor-in-chief, "Right for Choice" magazine, killed near Omsk - in Altai Republic;
Vyacheslav Plotnikov, reporter, 41st TV Channel, Voronezh;
Anna Politkovskaya, observer, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow, shot in her apartment building's elevator;[16][17][18][19]
Anatoly Voronin, business chief of ITAR-TASS; Moscow, stabbed to death in his home
Pavel Makeyev, reporter for TNT-Pulse Company, Rostov-on-Don;
Magomedzaghid Varisov, Makhachkala;
Alexander Pitersky, Baltika Radio reporter, Saint Petersburg;
Vladimir Pashutin, newspaper Smolensky Literator, Smolensk;
Tamirlan Kazikhanov, press service head, Anti-Terrorist Center of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs's Main Department for the Southern Federal District, Nalchik;
Kira Lezhneva, reporter, newspaper "Kamensky Worker", Sverdlovsk Region.[20]
Yefim Sukhanov, ATK-Media, Archangelsk;
Farit Urazbayev, cameraman, Vladivostok TV/Radio Company, city of Vladivostok;
Adlan Khassanov, Reuters reporter, killed in Grozny;
Shangysh Mondush, correspondent for newspaper Khemchiktin Syldyzy, Tuva Republic;
Paul Klebnikov, editor of Russian version of Forbes magazine, Moscow;
Payl Peloyan, editor of Armyansky Pereulok magazine, Moscow;
Zoya Ivanova, BGTRK broadcaster, Republic of Buryatia;
Vladimir Pritchin, editor-in-chief of North Baikal TV/Radio Company, Republic of Buryatia;
Ian Travinsky, Saint Petersburg, killed in Irkutsk;[21]
Aleksei Sidorov, Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye, October 9, 2003, Togliatti. He was the second editor-in-chief of local newspaper, "Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye" to be shot to death. His predecessor, Valery Ivanov, was shot in April 2002. The newspaper was known for reporting on organized crime and corruption in the industrial city of Togliatti. [8]
Yuri Shchekochikhin, Novaya Gazeta, July 3, 2003, Moscow. Deputy editor of the Novaya Gazeta, he died just a few days before his scheduled trip to USA to discuss the results of his journalist investigation with FBI officials. He investigated "Three Whales Corruption Scandal" that involved high-ranking FSB officials. Shchekochikhin died from an "acute allergic reaction" to a substance that was presumably identified as thallium. [9]
Dmitry Shvets, TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting, April 18, 2003, Murmansk. He was deputy director of the independent television station TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting. He was shot dead outside his station offices. Shvets' colleagues said their station had received multiple threats for its reporting on influential local politicians. [10]
Natalia Skryl, the Nashe Vremya newspaper, Taganrog town;
Konstantin Pogodin, the Novoye Delo newspaper, Nizhni Novgorod city;
Valeri Batuev, Moscow News newspaper, Moscow;
Sergei Kalinovski, the Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Smolensk;
Vitali Sakhn-Val'da, photojournalist, Kursk town;
Leonid Shevchenko, the Pervoye Chteniye newspaper, Volgograd;
Valeri Ivanov, the chief editor for the Tol'yattinskoye Obozrenie newspaper, the Samara region;
Sergei Zhabin,the press service of the governor of the Moscow region;
Nikolai Vasiliev, Cheboksary city, Chuvashia;
Leonid Kuznetsov, the Mescherskaya Nov' newspaper, the Ryazan region;
Paavo Voutilainen, a former main editor of the Kareliya magazine, Kareliya;
Roddy Scott, the Frontline-TV TV Company, from Great Britain.
Alexandr Plotnikov, the Gostiny Dvor newspaper, Tyumen city;
Oleg Sedinko, the founder of the Novaya Volna TV and Radio Company, Vladivostok city;
Nikolai Razmolodin, the general director of the Europroject TV and Radio Company, Ulyanovsk town;
Igor Salikov, the chief of the Department of information safety of the Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper in Penza;
Leonid Plotnikov, the publishing house "Periodicals of the Mari-El", Yoshkar-Ola.[22]
Eduard Markevich, 29, editor and publisher of local newspaper Novy Reft in Sverdlovsk Region, was found dead (shot in the back) on September 18. He often criticized local officials and had received threatening telephone phone calls prior to the murder. [11] [23]
Vladimir Yatsina, February 20, 2000. A correspondent for ITAR-TASS, he was kidnapped and later killed by a group of Wahhabis in Chechnya [24]
Aleksandr Yefremov, May 12, 2000, Chechnya. A photojournalist of the western Siberian newspaper Nashe Vremya was killed in Chechnya when rebels blew up a military jeep in which he was riding. On previous assignments, Yefremov had won acclaim for his news photographs from the war-torn region. [12]
Igor Domnikov, from Novaya Gazeta, July 16, 2000, Moscow. Unknown assassin hit him repeatedly on the head with a hammer in the entryway of his apartment building in Moscow. The killer was never found. It is believed that the assailant mistook Domnikov for a Novaya Gazeta reporter Oleg Sultanov who received threats from the FSB for his reporting on corruption in the Russian oil industry.[13]
Sergey Novikov, Radio Vesna, July 26, 2000, Smolensk. He was shot and killed in the stairwell of his apartment building. He often criticized the government of Smolensk Region. [14]
Iskandar Khatloni, Radio Free Europe, September 21, 2000, Moscow. He was killed at night with axe in his Moscow apartment by an unknown assailant. The motif of the murder is unknown, but Khatloni work on stories about the human-rights abuses in Chechnya.[25]
Sergey Ivanov, Lada-TV, October 3, 2000, Togliatti. He was shot five times in the head and chest in front of his apartment building. He was director of Lada-TV, the largest independent television company in Togliatti, which was an important player on the local political scene. [15].
Adam Tepsurgayev, Reuters, November 21, 2000, Chechnya. A Chechen cameraman, he was shot at a neighbor's house in the village of Alkhan-Kala. He produced most of Reuters' footage from Chechnya in 2000, including shots of Chechen rebel Shamil Basayev having his foot amputated. [16].

Russia, which saw 88 reporters murdered over the past 10 years, is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work.

Russia ranks second in the world in terms of the number of journalists killed on the job over the past decade, a global report said Tuesday.The report is titled "Killing the Messenger," and is based on the world's most comprehensive survey of deaths among journalists and other news media professionals, conducted between January 1996 and June 2006 by the International News Safety Institute (INSI).According to the report, 1,000 news media personnel have died while covering the news around the world in the past 10 years, but only a quarter of them died in wars and armed conflicts.The majority of those killed died while reporting in their own countries.
"In many countries, murder has become the easiest, cheapest and most effective way of silencing troublesome reporting, and the more the killers get away with it the more the spiral of death is forced upwards," Rodney Pinder, Director of INSI, said in the report.Russia, which saw 88 reporters murdered over the past 10 years, is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work. It is second only to Iraq, where 138 media personnel have been killed over the same period. The most recent high-profile murder of a Russian reporter occurred in October 2006, when investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in an elevator in her apartment bloc in Moscow, the victim of an apparent contract killing.
Politkovskaya, 48, known for her criticism of the Kremlin's policy in Chechnya, had written a book on the widespread abuse of local civilians by federal troops in the North Caucasus republic.INSI is a coalition of media organizations, press freedom groups, unions and humanitarian campaigners dedicated to the safety of journalists and media staff.

fifth suspect has been arrested in the slayings of five men believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico who were beaten, electrocuted and slashed

fifth suspect has been arrested in the slayings of five men believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico who were beaten, electrocuted and slashed in an alleged drug hit, authorities said Wednesday.Another man also was charged with hindering prosecution, though he wasn't directly accused in the killings. Investigators have described the slayings as contract killings carried out by a drug ring over at least $400,000 in missing money.With four men already jailed in the slayings, investigators said Derreck Renone Green, 32, of Birmingham was arrested Tuesday evening by federal agents and local police near Nashville, Tenn. He was jailed without bond on capital murder charges until he returns to Alabama.
Meanwhile, Marteze Terman Radford, 26, of Birmingham was being held on $500,000 bond after being charged Tuesday with hindering prosecution in the case. Authorities did not return calls seeking details on the charge.It was unknown Wednesday afternoon whether the two suspects had attorneys.Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry said prosecuting the cases would tie up resources for years."The complexity and the far-reaching extent of this investigation have made it very unique for our sheriff's office," he said in a statement.Curry has appealed to the Hispanic community for help in solving the killings, and officials offered rewards totaling $30,000. Curry has said the victims were illegal immigrants, apparently from Mexico.The bodies of five men were found Aug. 20 inside an apartment off U.S. 280 in Shelby County. The men apparently were dead for about three days but weren't found until deputies responded to a call from someone who could not reach one of the victims.Investigators said the men were bound with tape, beaten and shocked with an electrical current. Four of the victims had their throats slashed. Police haven't said whether the fifth victim's throat was cut.Details of the slayings could emerge during a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 19.Officers said they have seized numerous weapons during the investigation, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine.

James Ford Seale, 73, had spent just over a year in prison after being convicted in June 2007 on kidnapping and conspiracy charges

Attorneys said Wednesday they are working to free a reputed Ku Klux Klansman after a federal appeals court overturned the three life sentences he was serving for the 1964 abduction of two black teenagers who died after being beaten and thrown in the Mississippi River.James Ford Seale, 73, had spent just over a year in prison after being convicted in June 2007 on kidnapping and conspiracy charges related to the abductions of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee.A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Jackson, Miss., found late Tuesday that the statute of limitations for kidnapping had expired in the four decades between Seale’s alleged crime and the federal charges.

Undercover Janesville police officer posed as a contract killer and met with the 46-year-old on Tuesday.

Undercover Janesville police officer posed as a contract killer and met with the 46-year-old on Tuesday. Police said the man gave an undercover officer $2,000 to kill his estranged wife and Janesville City Council member Yuri Rashkin, who have been dating. “When faced with the deadline that he needed to proceed with the paperwork to finalize things, he decided to go in a horrible direction,” Rashkin said.Police said it started with a call from an informant. The 46-year-old suspect was looking for someone to “whack” his wife and her boyfriend, police said. Investigators then set up a meeting and recorded it.“The undercover officer posed as a Hells Angel as a contract killer,” Janesville Police Chief Neil Mahan said.A second meeting was planned for the following day, but the suspect postponed the killings, which he initially wanted to occur this weekend, because of alibi concerns, police said.
Officers arrested him at his Janesville apartment on tentative homicide and conspiracy charges Wednesday. Online court records show formal charges haven't been filed yet. The man is expected to appear in court Friday afternoon. He said his uncle married his wife about a year ago in Russia and that the two met on the Internet.Rashkin said he is worried the man will be released on bond after an initial court appearance Friday afternoon. He said the couple can't live under police protection.
"Will our lives be in jeopardy again?" Rashkin asked.

slayings in Shelby County as contract killings carried out by a drug ring over at least $400,000 in missing money

Five suspects have been arrested in the Alabama slayings of five men believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico. Investigators have described the slayings in Shelby County as contract killings carried out by a drug ring over at least $400,000 in missing money. The bodies of five men were found Aug. 20 inside an apartment. Investigators said the men had been bound with tape, beaten and shocked with an electrical current. Four of the victims had their throats slashed.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

150 contract killings in the country since 1997, according to the country’s interior ministry, and only a handful have been solved.

Bulgaria’s troubles with corruption, organized crime, theft of economic assets and an ineffectual judicial system are testing the EU’s ability to keep absorbing new countries. Now 27 members strong, the political bloc is looking next at taking in Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey, and then Serbia — each of which brings its own challenges. But Bulgaria’s example could give ammunition to opponents who say the EU already has brought too many difficult cases inside its borders.
There have been more than 150 contract killings in the country since 1997, according to the country’s interior ministry, and only a handful have been solved. Bulgaria’s interior minister resigned over contacts with suspected organized-crime bosses earlier this year. The clogged court system can take years to resolve even flagrant breaches of property rights. Opinion polls show Bulgarians view the judiciary as the country’s second most corrupt profession, after customs officials.
Union workers at the giant, troubled steel plant here recently held managers as virtual prisoners to force them to sign a contract. An ex-wrestler who allegedly amassed wealth by squeezing the plant for cash was shot dead by a sniper. Suppliers are suing the factory to force it into bankruptcy as two steel magnates compete to gain control of it.In Russia and Central Asia, such sagas of companies in chaotic power struggles have become familiar. But the Kremikovtzi steel plant is in the European Union. Last year it accounted for about 7% of the exports of Bulgaria, one of the EU’s two newest members. Now a Bulgarian court is about to decide what to do about the debt-ridden steel firm’s imminent collapse after years of stripped assets and neglect, even as thieves plunder the site.The EU’s executive arm took the unprecedented step July 23 of suspending about $780 million in scheduled aid payments to Bulgaria, criticizing it for slow progress in improving the courts, corruption and crime. European governments are increasingly concerned about Bulgaria’s becoming part of the EU’s borderless zone, within which residents can move about among countries without passports. The move, targeted for 2011, would make Bulgaria responsible for part of the shared external border of as many as 29 countries.Bulgaria already is a highway for smuggling people, drugs, counterfeit money and Chinese pirated goods such as CDs into Europe, according to a March report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The majority of heroin on Europe’s streets comes via Bulgaria, from Afghanistan, the report says.EU leaders knew Bulgaria had lingering problems when it was admitted to the bloc in January. They attached extra conditions to EU aid to both Bulgaria and Romania, which joined at the same time. Bulgaria says the country’s difficulties are exaggerated by the media, and points to progress: Since 2004, Bulgaria’s economy, the EU’s poorest, has been growing at more than 6%. The country has set up new agencies to oversee the judiciary and investigate corruption and organized crime, adopted new legal codes and proposed law-enforcement reform, but the EU says those moves haven’t produced enough results.
Kremikovtzi’s issues alone make up a major caseload. Prosecutors are investigating whether a recently fired Kremikovtzi chief executive embezzled funds that were transferred from the plant to Bulgaria’s top soccer club, where he was the chairman until last month. The plant, now running at half-capacity, this year has repeatedly failed to pay its workers or its suppliers.A court in the Bulgarian capital is due to rule by next week on the fate of the plant, where a work force that once numbered 20,000 has fallen to 6,000. The current principal owner is Pramod Mittal, brother of Lakshmi Mittal, who controls ArcelorMittal SA, the world’s largest steel firm. ArcelorMittal hopes to buy the plant after bankruptcy proceedings, and signed a contract last month to restore supplies to the plant, but is waiting to see if the Bulgarian government backs its takeover bid before making deliveries.
Workers are fighting a sale to ArcelorMittal, worried that it could cost them even more jobs. Konstantin Trenchev, head of the Podkrepa union confederation that represents thousands of workers at the Kremikovtzi plant, says he prefers a rival bidder: a Ukrainian firm owned by 34-year-old billionaire Kostyantin Zhevago. On July 10 thousands of workers surrounded Kremikovtzi’s shabby office tower for 10 hours, refusing to let executives leave until they had also signed a supply agreement with the Zhevago firm.One Kremikovtzi board member found an unguarded back door and ran away from the crowds across some fields. As night fell, hungry managers ordered sandwiches from outside caterers; workers seized and ate the delivery. The board caved in shortly before midnight and signed the supply contract with the Ukrainians.Mr. Zhevago also controls one of the suppliers suing to place the factory in bankruptcy. “We want to see the money repaid,” says Mr. Zhevago’s representative in Bulgaria, Vyctor Demianiyk. “For that, the plant must stay in operation.”
The sprawling Kremikovtzi plant — which occupies an entire suburb of Sofia — has borne the brunt of Bulgaria’s Wild East brand of capitalism ever since the fall of Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov in 1989. “You can write the history of capitalism in Bulgaria just on the basis of Kremikovtzi,” says Ivan Krastev, head of the Center for Liberal Strategies, a Sofia think tank. It shows, he says, how “Bulgaria has been deindustrialized by interest groups who extracted state assets like oil states extract the oil in their ground.”
When Communism fell, many former officers of Bulgaria’s feared security services — like those in some other former Eastern bloc states — formed shady business conglomerates whose activities included milking former state industries, running extortion and protection rackets, and bankrolling and occasionally assassinating politicians, as the U.N. report notes. They hired many former wrestlers and weightlifters, who were pampered heroes under Communism, as enforcers. Thick-necked former athletes still cruise Sofia streets in luxury sports cars and SUVs, flaunting wealth gained in the transition years. Now a generation of politicians who rose to the top in those troubled years is in charge of cleaning up the mess.Kremikovtzi’s troubles started in the early 1990s, when the state-owned steel company fell under the sway of Ilya Pavlov, a former wrestler who had married the daughter of a Communist-era secret-service chief. Mr. Pavlov persuaded Kremikovtzi’s managers to buy raw materials from a company he chose, at higher prices, and then sell finished steel to him at a discount, says Bogomil Bonev, who investigated Mr. Pavlov as Bulgaria’s interior minister in the late 1990s.Mr. Pavlov’s involvement “is the main reason why Kremikovtzi is bankrupt today,” says Mr. Bonev. He tried in vain to bring down Mr. Pavlov’s empire, which he said used legal businesses as a cover for organized crime and was protected by corrupt prosecutors and judges.
Mr. Pavlov became one of Bulgaria’s richest businessmen. Then a sniper shot him in the back as he and his bodyguards walked out of his offices in downtown Sofia in 2003. The killer was never found. Mr. Pavlov’s funeral was a “Who’s Who” of Bulgaria, presided over by the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and attended by the bosses of the most important local oil companies and banks and by two former Miss Bulgarias. A government minister read out a message from the then-prime minister, praising Mr. Pavlov for creating jobs.
The steel plant, meanwhile, was starved of cash. The state privatized it in 1999, selling 71% to previously little-known businessman Valentin Zahariev for one dollar and a promise to rehabilitate the plant.The government says Mr. Zahariev didn’t meet his obligations to invest in the company, and has spent years suing him in the country’s slow-moving courts. Union leaders say he used cash squeezed from Kremikovtzi to buy more steel plants, in Serbia and Kosovo.
Mr. Zahariev, in an interview, denied both accusations, and he is contesting the government’s claims. In 2005, he sold Kremikovtzi for $110 million to Pramod Mittal. By then, the plant was badly in need of major investment, to modernize its equipment to both make it commercially viable and to meet EU pollution standards. The haze of pollution belched by the plant’s furnaces often blots out the view of the mountains that rise around Sofia.
In 2006, the plant borrowed €325 million ($506 million) on the international bond market, at a high interest rate, 12%. But those funds didn’t produce notable upgrades of the plant. “Nobody knows where most of the money went,” says Mr. Trenchev, of the union confederation. An association of the bondholders, led by U.S. and U.K.-based hedge funds QVT Financial LP, Mars Capital Group and York Capital Management LLC, says the same.A spokesman for Pramod Mittal’s company, Global Steel Holding Ltd., says funds were used to repay other debts — including to Mr. Mittal. That “certainly reduced” the funds available for investment in the plant, the spokesman acknowledged.
In recent years Mr. Mittal has tried to construct a world-wide steel group by buying or building plants in far-flung and sometimes troubled places, including Nigeria, Bosnia, the Philippines and Libya besides Bulgaria, but his group remains much smaller than the huge steel empire controlled by his older brother Lakshmi Mittal.
Last August, Pramod Mittal hired a controversial figure, former Bulgarian politician Alexander Tomov, as chief executive to stop the bleeding. Mr. Tomov was a senior Communist-era official whose more recent roles include deputy prime minister, leader of four different political parties and chairman of Bulgaria’s top soccer club, CSKA Sofia.
He drew vehement criticism in all those roles. In June, police had to shield Mr. Tomov from attacks by furious CSKA fans: The club had lost its license to play in Europe’s top soccer competition after allegations of unpaid taxes and duties.
Bulgarian prosecutors last month indicted Mr. Tomov over millions of euros that they say were transferred from cash-starved Kremikovtzi to the soccer club, and then to offshore companies controlled by Mr. Tomov.
Meanwhile, bondholders and union officials have criticized Mr. Tomov for selling a string of Kremikovtzi assets, principally plots of land at the steel mill’s vast site, for what union leaders say was a fraction of their value. One contract signed by Mr. Tomov last October, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, sold 1.7 million square meters (about 420 acres) of land for €6.3 million, or about €3.7 per square meter. Surrounding land has been sold for anywhere from €40 to €130 per square meter.

Russian court sentenced Nevzlin to life in prison for allegedly ordering four contract killings of business rivals

Leonid Nevzlin, a former Khodorkovsky colleague who, after absconding to Israel, was tried — in absentia — for murder. On Friday, a Russian court sentenced Nevzlin to life in prison for allegedly ordering four contract killings of business rivals. The verdict, according to AFP, said that shootings and bomb attacks had been paid for by Nevzlin, a former Yukos executive, and Alexei Pichugin, the jailed former head of security at Yukos.“We will appeal. This sentence is groundless. . .My client has always said this trial is politically motivated,” said Nevzlin’s lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov.The trial comes just days before a court in Siberia is to hold a parole hearing for Khodorkovsky himself, who’s halfway through an eight-year jail term in Penal Colony No. 10 — located six time zones east of Moscow — for alleged financial crimes involving Yukos. As we noted last month, Khodorkovsky’s lawyers filed a request for his early parole, hoping to take advantage, they said, of the Kremlin’s “course towards guaranteeing real independent courts.”In 1980, Stewart reports, Amsterdam and a friend set up a legal practice specializing in business disputes in emerging markets. In Nigeria, where Amsterdam represented a Canadian telecom company, 30 government-backed men with AK-47 assault rifles tried to break up a shareholders meeting at which Amsterdam was making a presentation. “I’ve lost track of the number of times my life has been threatened,” he says.

Vladimir Barsukov (a.k.a Kumarin), reportedly one of the former leaders of the Tambov criminal group.

Vladimir Barsukov (a.k.a Kumarin), reportedly one of the former leaders of the Tambov criminal group, who is facing charges of orchestrating and carrying out a series of raids on large St. Petersburg companies and organizations, and other crimes, has been sent to the Vasileostrovsky District Court, the Prosecutor General’s press office said on Monday.According to a statement posted on Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office website, Viktor Grin, Russia’s Deputy Prosecutor General, has authorized a summing-up of the case that involves “a string of illegal raids on St. Petersburg enterprises and properties between 2004 and 2006 committed by an organized gang formed by Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin).”Barsukov, who changed his last name from Kumarin in the 1990s, was arrested on Aug. 22, 2007, during a special raid carried out by a joint team of law enforcement officers from Moscow and St. Petersburg, prosecutors said. The businessman was then transferred to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where he is still being held.In the 1990s, Barsukov was alleged to be the head of the Tambov gang, one of the most feared criminal syndicates in St. Petersburg at the time. In October 1999, Viktor Novosyolov, the controversial then-vice-speaker of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, who was believed to be the Tambov group’s lobbyist in parliament and known to maintain close ties to Barsukov, was murdered and the powerful Tambov group was suspected in a series of killings of local businessmen. Vladimir Markin, an official representative of the Investigative Committee of the General Prosecutor’s Office, told reporters in Moscow on Monday that an investigation continues into Barsukov’s possible involvement in a series of other crimes, including forming a criminal gang, murder and attempted execution-style contract killing.The prosecutors are probing Barsukov’s possible links to, in particular, an attempt to organize a contract killing aimed at eventually seizing ownership of the St. Petersburg oil terminal.
The Prosecutor’s Office website said that Barsukov has been charged in forming a criminal gang, money laundering and swindling.
The investigators believe the gang illegally seized a total of 13 local commercial enterprises. The cost of these properties amounts to 5 billion rubles ($213 million).
“At present, the Committee has established that in 2005-2006 Barsukov, with the assistance of seven other individuals — who are currently under arrest — formed a criminal gang, seized ownership of the Peterburgsky Ugolok restaurant and the Magazin Smolninsky store, and then sold these illegally acquired properties to a third party,” Markin said.
According to the investigation, Barsukov and his accomplices bribed officials at the St. Petersburg branch of the Federal Tax Service to alter the unified state database where the properties were listed, and to withdraw several sets of key documents related to the properties’ original ownership.
“In order to deprive the original owners of a chance to return the properties, the gang accomplished a chain of fictitious sales of properties until they were purchased by the businessmen under the gang’s full control,” reads the prosecution’s conclusion.
The Tambov Gang case has prompted a series of corruption investigations involving neglect of professional duties by certain members of law enforcement agencies and high-ranking civil servants.
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said the Tambov Gang investigation exposed powerful corrupt networks involving law enforcement officers as well as state executives and the prosecutor’s own staff. Barsukov, who has continually denied being a leader in the criminal community, has won several cases against Russian journalists who directly accused him of criminal connections in their publications.
However, Chaika has repeatedly stated that the Tambov criminal syndicate “has been exposed” having launched an investigation into a series of seizures that the prosecutors believe the gang was responsible for.
To strengthen his point, Chaika said more than 40 people had been charged in connection with the Tambov gang investigation prior to Barsukov’s arrest.
The Barsukov case is one of eight criminal cases regarding severe crimes committed by St. Petersburg-based criminal gangs that are currently being investigated or supervised by the General Prosecutor’s Office.Over the past decade, a string of Western media outlets, including Le Monde and Newsweek, linked Kumarin to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin through Vladimir Smirnov, the former head of St. Petersburg operations of SPAG, an agency that had been set up to invest in the city’s real estate, and an old associate of Putin.
In 1994, as a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Putin awarded the St. Petersburg Fuel Company, or PTK, the monopoly for supplying gasoline to the city.
At the time, Smirnov was a major shareholder inthe Petersburg Fuel Company and local media reported that the company was controlled by the Tambov.
In the mid-1990s the high-profile contract killings of major players in the fuel market rocked the city, contributing to its reputation as Russia’s criminal capital, or “Banditsky Petersburg.” In 1998, Smirnov took over PTK and appointed Barsukov as his deputy.

Manoj and Inderpal Singh accused of contract killings, two gangsters cut through the grill of heavily guarded lock up at Ghaziabad

Accused of contract killings, two gangsters cut through the grill of heavily guarded lock up at Ghaziabad.Taking the police by surprise, two alleged contract-killers, who were taken to the Ghaziabad District court for a hearing, escaped from the lock-up after cutting through the window grills on Tuesday.The two ‘killers’ —Manoj and Inderpal Singh—accused of serial killings, fled after cutting through the grill of the heavily guarded lock-up at the Ghaziabad court, the police said.
Both these men are accused of murdering four women at Noorpur in Ghaziabad in 2006.
The iron-grills were restored immediately after the incident. Later, Ghaziabad SSP Deepak Ratan and SP (City) Vijay Bhushan visited the lock-up and enquired about the incident from the police officers on duty.SP (City) Vijay Bhushan confirmed the incident and said that a hunt was on for the two men. “The police are questioning family members of the two dreaded killers and hopeful to get them back soon,” said Bhushan.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Leonid Nevzlin, a former deputy chairman of Yukos, ‘has been sentenced to life in a high-security prison,

Moscow court on Friday sentenced a former partner of jailed Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in absentia to life in prison for ordering four contract killings, a court official told Agence France-Presse.Leonid Nevzlin, a former deputy chairman of Yukos, ‘has been sentenced to life in a high-security prison,’ said a spokeswoman for the Moscow City Court.A Russian court on Friday found an Israel-based partner of jailed Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty of ordering four contract killings in a case dismissed by the defence as a farce.In a gruesome account of Russia's wild capitalism years, judge Valery Novikov at the Moscow City Court said Leonid Nevzlin had organised four murders of business rivals and officials while working for Khodorkovsky."The court has established that the accused, Nevzlin, organised the execution of several especially serious crimes," said Novikov, reading from a lengthy official verdict.
The shootings and bombings were paid for by Nevzlin, the judge said.The trial comes just days before a court in Siberia is due to hold a parole hearing for Khodorkovsky, who is serving out an eight-year jail term for financial crimes involving his now defunct Yukos oil empire.Nevzlin, a former deputy chairman of Yukos, fled to Israel in 2003 when the investigations began. He now has Israeli citizenship and Israel has refused to extradite him.Though the defendant's cell stood empty during the trial, Nevzlin was represented by his lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov, who insisted on his client's innocence. "Nevzlin is not guilty," Kharitonov told AFP."There is absolutely no basis to consider this trial fair. From the very beginning, Nevzlin and his defence have been denied almost all their lawful rights," Kharitonov told Radio Free Europe in an interview last month.
Speaking outside the court, Farida Islamova, the widow of one of Nevzlin's victims, the mayor of an oil town in Siberia, said: "I am fully satisfied with the verdict. My husband was killed for doing his job."Islamova's husband Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, was gunned down in 1998. His widow alleged that Khodorkovsky had threatened him a month before his death and that there had been threats against her own life."The leadership of Yukos, and Khodorkovsky himself, constantly threatened him. After Khodorkovsky was arrested, I was constantly threatened, followed and bugged because I was a witness," Islamova said.
In a series of inquiries since 2003, Khodorkovsky has been found guilty on multiple counts of tax evasion and embezzlement and has been charged with money laundering. He has never been formally accused of murder.The Yukos investigations have been seen by analysts as a political campaign to destroy the power of Yukos, which was once Russia's biggest oil company, and of Khodorkovsky, formerly the richest man in the country.Khodorkovsky also incurred the wrath of President Vladimir Putin, now the country's prime minister, by funding opposition parties and proposing plans to build a privately-funded pipeline to pump Yukos oil to China, analysts said.
Yukos has been declared bankrupt and its assets sold off in a process that has benefited state-controlled Rosneft, which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and has become Russia's biggest producer.
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