Saturday, April 16, 2011

Russian police officers reportedly 'sold' phone data to contract killers...

Russian police officers reportedly  'sold phone data to contract killers’...

The victim Andrel Kozlov...

A group of Russian policemen have been accused of selling confidential mobile phone data to contract killers who used it to murder one of the country’s top anti-corruption crusaders.

Mr Kozlov and his driver were shot dead in September 2006 after being ambushed in a car park in Moscow Photo: AP By Andrew Osborn, Moscow 4:58PM BST 14 Apr 2011

In the latest scandal to hit the police force, investigators said they had opened a criminal investigation into three Moscow policemen suspected of selling mobile phone data that was used by a group of killers to track their target’s movements and work out where and when it was best to murder him.

Their victim, 41-year-old Andrei Kozlov, was the first deputy head of the Russian central bank and one of the country’s most prominent anti-corruption crusaders. He and his driver were shot dead in September 2006 after being ambushed in an unlit car park in northern Moscow by two gunmen. The three policemen, who are being formally investigated for abusing their authority, insist they did nothing wrong and got a judge’s permission to access Mr Kozlov’s mobile phone records. It is unclear though why a judge would have agreed to such a request.

Igor Trunov, a lawyer involved in Mr Kozlov’s murder trial, warned that the allegations were part of a wider pattern of police corruption. “Corruption and the participation of law enforcement employees in illegal activity is widespread,” he told Vzglyad magazine. “Take any criminal case and we will find them in either the role of middleman or accomplice. To our great misfortune, they share information and sell their position and their powers.”

In 2008, a businessman whose bank Mr Kozlov shut down a few months earlier on suspicion of money laundering was found guilty of ordering the hit and sentenced to 19 years in jail. Six others, including the gunmen, were handed long prison sentences too. But as the Kremlin forges ahead with a major anti-corruption drive, the police’s role in the case is coming under closer scrutiny. Experts say the officers probably charged the equivalent of between 450 and 1,200 pounds for their services but that the price demanded by corrupt officers now for similar services is much higher. Police corruption in Russia is rife with officers routinely extorting bribes from motorists and demanding cash to let people off real or invented crimes. In a recent case, a policeman was caught taking a bribe from a funeral agency in exchange for informing them about recent deaths so that they could get a head start on rival agencies

Acknowledgements: The Telegraph Group

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