Retrial of government official poachers postponed until late November
KOSH-AGACH VILLAGE (Altai Republic), September 15 - RAPSI. The court postponed on Thursday the retrial of high-ranking officials charged with hunting endangered animals during an ill-fated helicopter flight until November 30, RIA Novosti reports from the courtroom.
The hearing was delayed at the request of defendant Anatoli Bannykh for health reasons.
A Mi-171 helicopter (Mi-8 modification) carrying high-ranking officials crashed in the vicinity of Chornaya Mountain in January 2009, killing seven passengers. Of the four passengers that survived the crash, three stood trial for illegally poaching endangered Argali Sheep.
Photographs of the crash site were published on the Internet, showing Argali Sheep carcasses strewn amidst helicopter debris. The photographs caused a massive public outcry, especially since the animals are on Russian and international endangered species lists. The sheep are considered sacred by the local indigenous population.
An Altai district court acquitted the three accused for lack of evidence on May 23, 2010.
The prosecutor's office filed a cassation appeal of the acquittal. The Altai Supreme Court satisfied the appeal and remanded the case for review on August 11.
According to the courts press secretary, Bannykh applied Tuesday night to postpone the trial due to poor health.
Argali hunting has been prohibited in Russia since 1930.