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Supreme Court upholds sentence against journalist's murderers

(IMI/IFEX) - The following is a 25 June 2007 statement from IMI, an interim member of IFEX:

Supreme Court upheld sentence against Aleksandrov's murderers

On 23 May 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence delivered by Luhansk regional court of law against the murderers of journalist Ihor Aleksandrov.

The General Prosecutor's Office had asked the sentence to be reconsidered as they held that the prison terms, ranging from three to 15 years, were too soft a punishment for the killers, Oleksandre and Dmytro Rybak, Oleksandr Onyshko, Ruslan Tursunov and Serhiy Korytskiy, who are members of the criminal group, "17th zone".

However, the Supreme Court judges delivered the same verdict pronounced by Luhansk regional court of law on 7 July 2006. The instigators, the brothers Rybak, received prison sentences of 15 and 11 years, respectively, while the immediate executors, Oleksandr Onyshko, Ruslan Tursunov and Serhiy Korytskiy, received 12, six and two years and half, respectively. The widow is to be compensated with 400,000 hryvnias (approx. US$80,000).

Aleksandrov, director of broadcast company TOR, was beaten to death with baseball bats in his office on 7 July 2001. Onyshko and Tursunov acknowledged killing the journalist, but said it was not premeditated. They added that they did not get any order from anyone to kill him, and had only wanted to beat Aleksandrov. The alleged instigators, the brothers Rybak, denied involvement in the case.

Aleksandrov's widow, Ludmilla, told Channel 5: "The sentence delivered today, generally speaking, is deserved by everyone who was punished; everyone deserves his term. We are satisfied with the punishment . . . "

However, the prosecutor, Valentin Bryantsev, was unsatisfied. "I have some doubts as to the punishment issued against Rybak Aleksander, because we have asked for a life sentence ( . . . ). The acknowledged norm is that the person who organized the crime is a more dangerous criminal than the immediate killer," he said.

The wife of Aleksander Rybak claimed her husband was not guilty. The judges have punished subordinates, she said, while the truly guilty persons escaped because they have parliamentary immunity.

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