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Europe

Spanish court sentences Georgian crime boss

A Spanish Court has sentenced the Georgian leader of an extensive crime gang to seven and a half years in jail. Zahar Kalashov was found guilty of laundering money gained from criminal activities in ex-Soviet states.

The handcuffed hands of a man wearing a suit and expensive watch

Kalashov was extradited from Dubai in 2006

Spain's top criminal court on Tuesday convicted the Georgian crime gang leader Zahar Kalashov of money laundering, sentencing him to seven and a half years in jail.

Kalashov, who was extradited to Spain from Dubai in 2006, was also ordered to pay a fine of 20 million euros ($24.6 million).

However, having spent a significant period behind bars, Kalashov was judged to be eligible for parole and released. His is likely to be rearrested and extradited to Georgia, having been sentenced to nine years in prison in that country.

Prosecutors had originally asked that Kalashov be sentenced to 12 years and two months in prison.

Kidnappings and casinos

The court heard that the 57-year-old laundered money from crimes such as kidnappings and the operation of illegal casinos in the former Soviet Union. He invested the money in Spanish real estate and luxury cars.

Kalashov fled Spain after the police there launched "Operation Wasp" in June 2005, resulting in the arrest of some 30 suspected members of his organization. Swoops in Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga led to 800 bank accounts being frozen, with luxury villas, vehicles and cash also seized.

Two other Georgians, two Russians and a Ukrainian were also convicted of money laundering at a trial last year. They received jail sentences of between two and five years.

rc/AFP/AP/Reuters
Editor: Rob Turner

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