By Madalin Necsutu
Amidst ongoing controversy over the charges, the Chisinau District Court reached its decision after six hours of deliberation.
Six men accused of plotting the assassination of Moldova’s most influential oligarch, Democratic Party leader Vlad Plahotniuc, were sentenced late Monday night to between three and 20 years in jail.
Moldovan prosecutors originally had requested prison terms of between 11 to 24 years for the six alleged contract killers.
Accused ringleader Valery Zobolotny, the deputy chairperson of the sports-charity IFAVIS, will be behind bars for 20 years. The other five – Vasily Dragulyu, Ivan Kozhokar, Igor Melnik, Stepan Kirov, Dmitry Shevchenko -were sentenced from between three to 11 years in prison.
All six pled not guilty.
Initially, prosecutors brought charges against seven individuals, but one of the men, Iurie Parhomenco, did a plea bargain with investigators. In January, he was sentenced to five years and four months in jail.
The state investigation claimed that the seven acted on orders from Grigory Karamalak (also known as «Bulgaru» or «The Bulgarian), a Moldovan who lives in Moscow, in exchange for $200,000. Karamalak, the chairperson of the Russia-based IFAVIS, also has been charged in the case. He recently dismissed the accusations as «clownery» to Newsmaker.md and has denied any involvement.
Plahotniuc, whom Karamalak described as a personal acquaintance, has not commented publicly on the sentencing. The Democratic Party “firmly condemned this criminal act” soon after the suspects’ arrest in April 2017.
To detain the seven men, Moldova coordinated with Ukraine, which kept them under surveillance for several months before their arrest.
At the time, questions were raised about the grounds for the charges after the Moldovan authorities released video footage of the accused supposedly drawing in the sand their plan of attack on the Chisinau building where Plahotniuc has an office.