Verdict of acquittal to argali sheep poachers revoked

GORNO-ALTAISK, August 11 (Itar-Tass) —— The Supreme Court of the Altai Republic has revoked a verdict of acquittal earlier passed on a sensational criminal case opened into an incident of poaching argali sheep which ended in a disaster. The Altai Supreme Court has ordered a new investigation into the case.

The Supreme Court satisfied an appeal filed by the Prosecutor’s Office which asked to revoke the verdict earlier passed to three defendants who stood trial on the case.

On May 23 the Kosh- Agachsky district court acquitted former vice- premier of the Altai Republic Anatoly Bannykh, Director of Ineko company Boris Belinsky and deputy director of the Moscow Institute of economics and law Nikolai Kapranov, who were put on trial on charges of poaching rare Argali sheep species. The defendants pleaded not guilty.

A helicopter Mi-171 owned by Gaspromavia Company crashed in the Kosh-Agachky district on January 9, 2009. The helicopter was found three days after it crashed. Four out of eight passengers and three crewmen survived. Prominent officials – a plenipotentiary representative of the Russian president in the State Duma Alexander Kosopkin and head of the Committee for environmental protection of the Altai government Viktor Kaiman, were among the victims killed in the helicopter crash.

The investigation claimed that all of them, including Bannykh, Belinsky and Kapranov, had been poaching argali sheep and actually killed three animals which are on the Book of Endangered species banned to hunters. The losses inflicted totaled 900,000 roubles. The criminal case was opened on charges of illegal hunting endangered animals with the use of aircraft by a group of people on preliminary conspiracy.

The Altai Prosecutor’s Office expressed satisfaction with the resolution passed by the Supreme Court, senior prosecutor Svetlana Kazandykova told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

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