Ex-official kills himself in Moscow courtroom after verdict



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MOSCOW (AP) — A former Russian prison service official with cancer shot himself dead in a Moscow courtroom Wednesday after being handed a three-year prison sentence on corruption charges, officials said.

Local court and investigative officials said Viktor Sviridov, who had served as chief of department in Russia's federal prison service, took out a pistol and fired it at his chest after a judge declared him guilty and imposed the sentence.

Officials were examining how Sviridov managed to bring the gun into the court building when he arrived for the hearing from home. Court officials said a metal detector at the entrance was functioning properly.

Sviridov had pleaded guilty to the corruption charges, which involved extorting a bribe of 10-million rubles (over $158,000.)

Sviridov had cancer and didn't expect to be sent to prison, and his lawyers asked the judge not to include a prison term in the sentence, defense lawyer Alexander Kotelnitsky said.

“I heard a clap and then saw him stumble and fall,” Kotelnitsky said, describing the moment of the suicide.

He said medical documents about Sviridov's cancer were submitted to the court. But court officials challenged the claim. saying the judge was unaware of the defendant's medical condition.

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