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#6 - JRL 7265
Russian Officer Found Guilty of Murder
July 25, 2003

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) - A Russian colonel was found guilty Friday of kidnapping and murdering a Chechen woman and sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security prison.

The military court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don declared that Col. Yuri Budanov was sane at the time of the 2000 killing and ordered him stripped of his military rank and awards.

Budanov was the first Russian military officer to face trial for abuses in Chechnya.

Budanov has admitted strangling Heda Kungayeva, 18, but says he did it in a fit of rage during an interrogation. In December, a court ruled that Budanov was temporarily insane at the time of the killing and was not criminally responsible.

However, the Supreme Court overturned that decision and ordered a new trial.

A new psychiatric report delivered to the court last month concluded that Budanov was sane but in a ``highly agitated state'' at the time of the killing.

The court said that the time Budanov has spent in jail, approximately three years, will count toward his sentence.

A lawyer for the Chechen woman's family had asked the court to sentence the officer to 15 years and 10 days in prison, and the prosecution had asked for 12 years.

Supporters from the ultra-nationalist Russia National Unity group stood outside the court on Friday to support Budanov as the sentencing was announced.

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