Fake special ops case starts in St. Petersburg
The defendants have chosen a trial by jury. If no incidents occur during the preliminary hearing today, then three weeks later, the jury court office will start selecting candidates.
A preliminary hearing on the case of fake special forces officers has begun today in St. Petersburg. The defendants are Vitaly Samsonov and Igor Khludkov, as well as their accomplices: the Lieutenant Colonel of the Federal Penitentiary Service department in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, a member of the Typhoon special squad Pavel Grigoriev, a former criminal investigator from the 44th police department of the St. Petersburg’s Primorsky district Anton Kulikov, Dmitry Gorshkov, Konstantin Zubov, Georgy Zukhin, Andrey Karpov, and Alexander Gromov.
For a long time, the criminals pretended to be special forces officers, attacking businessmen and transporters of illegal money. They committed more than 8 assaults and robberies, and were involved in kidnapping. The gang gained millions of dollars.
At today's meeting, in accordance with the law, the defendants will be identified and the further procedure for the hearing established. It has been reported that the defendants have chosen a trial by jury. If no incidents occur during today's preliminary hearing, three weeks later, the jury court office will start selecting candidates for lay judges. If the jury is selected at first attempt, the hearing on the merits can be expected within a month.
The trial is expected to be chaired by Judge Galina Ponomareva.
Judge Galina Ponomareva is known for sentencing to life imprisonment the leader of lawmaker Yuri Shutov’s gang leftovers, Sergey Zaripov. She also passed a severe verdict for the leader of the so-called Medics Gang Valery Burykin (in 2005, three episodes from the gang’s illegal activities were isolated in a separate proceeding). Galina Ponomareva conducted a preliminary hearing on the murder of Russian journalist Galina Starovoitova.
It remains unknown who will act as a public prosecutor. Vitaly Samsonov, Pavel Grigoriev, Anton Kulikov, Igor Khludkov, Dmitry Gorshkov, Konstantin Zubov, Georgy Zukhin, and Andrey Karpov are charged depending on the role of each of them in the following grave crimes stipulated by parts 1, 2 of Art. 209 of the Criminal Code, items (a), (b) of part 4 of art. 162 of the Criminal Code, item (a) of part 3 of Art. 126 of the Criminal Code, item (a) of part 4 of Art. 158 of the Criminal Code, part 3 of Art. 166 of the Criminal Code, items (a), (b) of part 3 of Art. 163 of the Criminal Code, and part 1 of Art. 222 of the Criminal Code (banditry, robbery, kidnapping, theft, unlawful possession of a car, extortion, and arms trafficking).
Earlier, one of the gang members have already been convicted and confessed on all the criminal episodes, making a deal with the investigation. In April 2016, Alexander Gromov was sentenced by the St. Petersburg City Court to 6 years in a penal colony of strict regime for four robberies and involvement in the kidnapping of a businessman Migulev.