17 Mar 2020 22:58

Russia reopens probe against U.S., Liberian agents involved in abduction of pilot Yaroshenko - Investigative Committee

MOSCOW. March 17 (Interfax) - The Russian Investigative Committee has confirmed the resumption of an investigation into a criminal case against officers of United States and Liberian special services involved in the abduction of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.

"The Investigative Committee division for the Rostov region has opened an investigation into a criminal case against 11 officers of the U.S. Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), four officers of the Republic of Liberia National Security Agency (RLNSA), two other citizens of the Republic of Liberia, and other unidentified individuals based on the fact of Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko's abduction and coercion into providing testimony," the Investigative Committee said.

The decision to reopen the investigation has been "dictated by the need to take a number of additional investigative and procedural steps in this criminal case."

"In particular, considering information present in the case, an investigator will forward inquiries, including repeated ones, to the relevant U.S. and Liberian bodies with the aim of obtaining information on special services officers who committed Yaroshenko's abduction, on the state of his health, and on the possibility of questioning Konstantin Yaroshenko. Additionally, the investigation will designate Konstantin Yaroshenko's wife an aggrieved party and question her in this criminal case," it said.

Yaroshenko's wife Viktoria had told Interfax about the investigators' decision to reopen the case earlier on Tuesday.

"The case has been reopened. We've been summoned for questioning, but this has happened regularly since 2015. The case itself has been closed and reopened again several times already," she said.

Viktoria said that she has been summoned to the Russian Justice Ministry's department for the Rostov region.

According to the Investigative Committee's findings, Yaroshenko, a Russian citizen, was abducted on May 28, 2010 by DEA and RLNSA officers from a car park of the Royal Hotel in Monrovia on the pretext of his detention on suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking and conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the U.S. along with other individuals.

"After his abduction, Yaroshenko was taken to an unidentified place in the Republic of Liberia, where he was unlawfully held up to May 30, 2010 without consular and lawyer assistance, while being subjected to violence, humiliation and torture with the aim of extorting confession from him," the Investigative Committee said.

Subsequently, "without observing any mandatory legal procedures stipulated by both international law and laws of the Republic of Liberia and regulating the extradition and deportation of a citizen of a different state from the said state, and without the mandatory notification of a Russian diplomatic mission, [Yaroshenko] was illegally transported on board a plane by U.S. Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration officers from the Republic of Liberia to New York City, the U.S., where he was placed at a local prison and later committed for trial and sentenced to a lengthy prison term," it said.

Yaroshenko is currently serving his 20-year prison term in the U.S., to which a U.S. court sentenced him in 2011.

"In the course of an investigation into the criminal case, the investigation has repeatedly taken measures to identify and prosecute individuals suspected of committing unlawful actions in relation to Konstantin Yaroshenko. The investigation has still not received answers to international requests for legal assistance in questioning individuals involved in Yaroshenko's abduction and providing information proving their identities, which were forwarded to the Republic of Liberia's relevant bodies, while the U.S. bodies officially refused to provide information on the state of Yaroshenko's health and to question the individuals responsible for his abduction," the Russian Investigative Committee said.