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News 25 Oct 17

Moldova Charges Seven with Plotting Top Politician’s Murder

Moldova’s organised crime prosecutors said that seven people have been indicted for allegedly plotting to assassinate ruling Democratic Party chief Vladimir Plahotniuc in April. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
The head of Moldova's ruling Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc. Photo: Vladimir Plahotniuc/Facebook.

Moldova’s organised crime prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they will prosecute seven people, including a well-known Moldovan fugitive who has been wanted by Interpol since 1998, for involvement in a plot to assassinate Vladimir Plahotniuc, the head of the ruling Democratic Party and also one of the country’s richest and most powerful politicians.

The evidence that prosecutors presented to journalists in Chisinau included phone recordings, witness accounts, the confessions of some of the suspects who were arrested in April, and photographs of weapons and ammunition seized during raids.

The prosecutor in charge of the case, Vitalie Busuioc, said the investigation concluded that the assassination was ordered by the fugitive Grigori Karamalak, who has been on Interpol’s list since 1998 and is wanted for alleged extortion; he is currently believed to be in Russia.

Karamalak allegedly paid $100,000 dollars in advance and promised to pay as much again after the job was done.

According to Busuioc, Karamalak delegated a close collaborator to hire a group of assassins and kill Plahotniuc.

The hired Moldovans allegedly reached out to several Ukrainians, including pro-Russian paramilitary fighters in eastern Ukraine, for help in procuring the weapons.

The Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities said they received information about the operation at the end of 2016 and kept the members of the group under surveillance until late March 2017.

Moldova and Ukraine jointly detained 17 people in April suspected of plotting to assassinate Plahoniuc.

Prosecutors called Plahotniuc as a witness in the investigation, but the politician refused to participate in the trial as the victim, saying that he was not harmed by the plot. 

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