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20 Feb, 2008 07:04

Guilty! Russia's ex-nuclear minister faces up to 9 years in prison

The ex-chief of the Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry, Evgeny Adamov, has been found guilty of fraud and the misuse of power. He now faces up to nine years in prison. Adamov has protested his innocence and promised to appeal the verdict of a Moscow's distri

It took minutes for judges at Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky district court to give Yevgeny Adamov the bad news.

“Adamov is guilty of committing fraud, stealing property and abusing his work position, authority and resources,” was the judge’s verdict.

The former nuclear energy minister seemed strangely unmoved by the verdict, which means he now faces up to nine years in prison.

Hearing the former minister’s fate on Tuesday, Adamov’s lawyer Genri Reznik pledged to carry on fighting

“As his advocate, I didn’t find any compelling evidence against him in his case. I believe that we will definitely appeal the guilty verdict,” Reznik said.

A long trial

His sentencing will bring to an end a trial that's been years in the making and involved three different countries.

Evgeny Adamov was first detained in 2005 in Switzerland at the request of the U.S.

According to U.S. prosecutors, Adamov defrauded up to $US 9 million of funds aimed at helping Russia improve security at its nuclear facilities. This money was sent to Russia's Scientific Research and Construction Institute of Energy Technologies in the 1990s, when Adamov was the head of the Institute.

But before the US could get their hands on him Russia stepped in, filing it’s own extradition request and charging Adamov with creating an organised crime group and embezzling $US 30 million during his time in office from 1998 to 2001.

Adamov denied the accusations. He said the controversy is due to the mess in payment schemes which were practiced in Russia in the middle of the 1990s and all the money he received went to developers of various projects and wages for employees.

Adamov also demanded to be sent to Russia. According to him, if he was tried in the U.S. he would have to share secret information of national importance to Russia.

“I would stand trial in the U.S. in order to restore justice. But I will do so only with guarantees that the U.S. assures Russia that my taking part in a trial will not be a channel for leaking information that is sensitive to our country,” said Adamov.

Switzerland chose Russia as the country to host the trial.

Adamov was released from jail in 2006 with no right to leave the country. In total in Switzerland and Russia he spent 15 months behind bars.