- Title: SWITZERLAND: SWISS COURT CLEARS RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN OF MAFIA CHARGES
- Date: 12th December 1998
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (DECEMBER 11, 1998) (REUTERS) GV: EXTERIOR PALAIS DE JUSTICE MCU: TWO OF MIKHAILOV'S LAWYERS PASCAL MAURER AND ALEC REYMONT WALKING OUT OF COURT AND SPEAKING TO MEDIA ON STEPS (SOUNDBITE)(French) LAWYER PASCAL MAURER SAYING: "I am happy with the function of justice in this country. It is not a problem, a verdict has been reached and he is not guilty, there is no conviction, he is innocent." MCU: JOURNALISTS CU: (SOUNDBITE)(English) LAWYER ALEC REYMONT SAYING: "We just said that we are proud to see that here in Geneva the proceedings law has been applied very strictly and despite quite a huge media influence the jury made things very precisely and very strictly and applied to the law." QUESTION: And now what? Where is he going? CU: MAURER REPLIES: "We don't know. And if we knew I don't think we would tell anybody." (SOUNDBITE)(English) REYMONT SAYING: "From now on he is free man, he does whatever he wants." QUESTION: After two years inside he can now walk? REYMONT ANSWERS: "Well one thing is sure he has been in jail for two years for absolutely nothing." MAURER ANSWERS: "It has just been decided, he has been in jail for two years for nothing." GV/PAN: CAR CARRYING MIKHAILOV LEAVING PALAIS DE JUSTICE
- Embargoed: 27th December 1998 12:00
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Swaziland
- Reuters ID: LVADRLFZAH1SP5JHYYH2HASFXJ11
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A Swiss court on Friday (December 11) cleared Russian self-styled businessman Sergei Mikhailov of charges that he was head of a major Moscow mafia family, saying police had failed to prove their case after holding him for two years.
The ruling came after a trial stretching over 15 days, during which witnesses from Russia and the United States gave evidence for and against Mikhailov who had faced up to 7-1/2 years in jail if found guilty.
Two of Mikhailov's four lawyers spoke to journalists outside the courthouse after the ruling.Pascal Maurer and Alec Reymont said the verdict showed Mikhailov had spent two years in jail for nothing but he was now a free man and could whatever he wanted.
His acquittal was a bitter blow to Swiss police and prosecutors who argued he had led a gang known as the Solntsevo group after the Moscow suburb where it was believed to have been launched before spreading across Europe.
Mikhailov, who has a wife and two small children, was also found not guilty of one other offence, unlawful residence in Switzerland, and only technically guilty of falsifying documents in the purchase of a house -- meaning he could walk free, court officials said.
The trial had caused a major stir in Switzerland, where hundreds of so-called "newly rich" Russians have settled since the collapse of communism in 1991.
The affair had been followed closely by police in several other European countries, as well as the United States, who have been seeking to track the operations of Russian mafia groups, said to be among the most active on the continent.
The Solntsevo gang was alleged to have been linked to a Russian mobster, Vyacheslav Ivankov, who was sentenced to 115 months in jail in New York last year.
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