Russian mob trial starts in Prague amid high security

Russian mob trial starts in Prague amid high security

Prague – Amid very high security, Prague’s supreme court started a trial of men accused of killing a young driver of Aleš Hušák, CEO of biggest Czech betting Company Sazka, and stabbing an entrepreneur in Prague’s Wenceslas square.

Six men from the former USSR countries are charged of being involved in the assassination plot. One of them is Andranik Soghoyan, a so-called „vor v zakone”, or Russian mob boss. Soghoyan’s role in the Czech Republic was to mediate and settle conflicts between various Russian-speaking criminal groups active in the country. All the accused were cuffed and watched by several policemen with balaclavas and automatic guns.

Police believes that Soghoyan ordered the assassination of an Armenian businessman in 2007 in order to scare Prague’s Armenian minority and gain influence over Chechens living there. It appears that the businessman violated unwritten norms of the Russian criminal underworld by refusing to give half of a sum of one million USD into a common pool.

Two failed attempts

The prosecution argues that Soghoyan hired Timur Tretyakov, an Ukrainian man, to do the job. Tretyakov tried to kill the Armenian businessman on 13 November 2007 in Wenceslas square in Prague’s very historic center. However, Tretyakov erroneously stabbed a different man.

Fourteen days later, Tretyakov made another attempt, but failed again – he killed a driver working for Sazka, a major Czech betting company. The driver, a father of two, was stepping out of a Bentley limo he was driving near a place through which Tretyakov’s real target, the Armenian businessman, was often seen driving. Tretyakov then shot the driver two times.

After the two failed assassination attempts, Soghoyan hired another man, Roman Melkonyan, to bring him the Armenian.

All the accused refused to testify, with the exception of Melkonyan. „We just wanted to berate him (the businessman), it is absolutely not true that we wanted to kill him. It is fabricated,” Malkonyan said repeatedly during the hearing.

High security

The start of the trial was delayed due to lengthy screenings of the people that wanted to see the hearing, including journalists. Even the wallets and purses were searched, and a police dog was used to sniff for drugs.

„I haven’t seen anything similar even during the Berdych gang trial,” said Jaroslav Ortman, a lawyer of one of the accused, referring to a notorious trial with a gang of ex-policemen that were involved in kidnappings and other violent criminality.

The hearing is going to last until Friday 25 June.

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