2009 13/03

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ordered Russia to pay 8,000 euros ($10,200) in compensation to a former Siberian mayor who has been in jail since December 2006, the court said on Thursday.

Former Tomsk mayor Alexander Makarov, who was re-elected for a third term in 2004, was arrested by Russian police on December 8, 2006, and later charged with possession of narcotics and abuse of office.

On March 14, 2007, Makarov filed a suit with the European Court against Russia for unsatisfactory conditions in jail and the excessive length of his pre-trial detention. According to the court judgment published on Thursday, he remains in custody with trial proceedings still pending.

He was initially suspected, together with a relative, of extorting $114,000 from local residents by threatening to destroy their real estate and prevent them from rebuilding.

Prosecutors discovered $1.5 million in apartments belonging to relatives of Alexander Makarov. More than 1 million rubles ($38,000 at 2006 exchange rates) were found in his office and another 300,000 rubles ($11,400) during a personal search of the mayor himself, prosecutors said.

Makarov’s lawyer, Natalya Azurova, has argued her client was arrested illegally, because prosecutors had not found real witnesses in the case.

She also said prosecutors had searched the flats of Makarov’s relatives, where the mayor did not live or store his belongings, adding that the defense had not been invited to the searches and had seen no official search reports.

Russia has lost the majority of cases brought against it in the Strasbourg. In 2008, the court ruled against Russia 245 times. Overall, around 20% of all complaints made to the court in the past decade have involved Russia.

Source: www.en.rian.ru

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