New probe could absolve ex-prosecutor of blame in illegal gambling ring
MOSCOW, June 18 (RAPSI) - The defense hopes that an additional investigation will provide evidence that former Moscow Region First Deputy Prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko was not involved in the illegal gaming business case, attorney Alexander Asnis told RAPSI on Tuesday.
The Prosecutor General's Office earlier said that the case against Ignatenko and former department head of the Moscow Regional Prosecutor's Office, Dmitry Urumov, has been returned to the Investigative Committee for an additional investigation.
"We believe that the new investigation - provided that it is unbiased - will establish my client's innocence of the crimes he has been accused of," the lawyer said.
He said that the defense had lodged several complaints with the Prosecutor General's Office, claiming that no reliable evidence of Ignatenko's guilt had been found during the initial investigation. Moreover, some of the action taken as part of the investigation was in violation of the law.
"The Prosecutor General's Office clearly agrees with our arguments. The prosecutors studied the case and evidently noted these violations, which meant that the indictment was not approved," Asnis said.
Ignatenko's pre-trial detention expires on July 1, the lawyer said, adding that the Investigative Committee may release him even earlier, but that he was not sure whether the investigators would actually take this step.
Ignatenko faces prosecution in the case of the illegal casino scandal that caused a public uproar in 2011. Businessman Ivan Nazarov allegedly operated illegal casinos in 15 towns across the Moscow Region. While the nature of Ignatenko's particular role in the scandal remains unclear, according to law enforcement authorities, high-ranking officials from prosecutor's offices and the Interior Ministry were involved in the casino scheme, which generated between $5 million and $10 million in monthly revenue.
Casinos were outlawed in Russia on July 1, 2009, when a federal law was passed banning any gambling in the country except in four special zones located in different regions. Since the law was enacted, thousands of illegal gambling ventures have been closed by law enforcement agencies.
The Moscow Region gambling ring turned out to be one of the biggest of its kind.