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MMA Champ Mirzayev convicted of negligence in teen's death, set free

14:00 27/11/2012

MOSCOW, November 27 - RAPSI. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion Rasul "Black Tiger" Mirzayev was convicted of having negligently caused the death of 19-year-old student Ivan Agafonov in a 2011 Moscow street brawl, and was released on time served.

Under Russia's Criminal Code, 26-year-old Mirzayev faced up to two years in prison if convicted. However, each day spent in isolation counts as two days- and Mirzayev has already spent more than a year in isolation. Thus the prosecutors' requested sentence has already been served.

Mirzayev is part of a large ethnic minority group in Moscow. Ethnic tensions are making themselves known today as nationalists gather around the court. Nationalist leader Dmitry Demushkin has already been arrested.

Rasul Mirzayev during sentence hearingRasul Mirzayev during sentence hearing

Parties and spectators present on behalf of the victim seemed horrified as the judge continued to read off accounts of the incident (detailed below) that led to today's proceedings. Agafonov's mother had a heart attack and was sent to the hospital this morning. The young victim's father remained at the court, but stormed out of the courtroom early into today's hearing, declaring that he was sick of these lies. The devastated man sought refuge in a nearby cafe, but journalists followed his every move.

The Agafonov family attorney Oksana Mikhalkina, had already declared her intention to appeal before the judge even had a chance to finish reading out the judgment. This may be due to the mitigation of Mirzayev's mens rea from intentional to negligent. The former, which was the prosecutors' original theory in the case, would have carried a maximum sentence of up to 15 years. As prosecutors agreed to a mitigated mens rea earlier in the trial, it is unlikely that they will join the Agafonov's in appealing. Still, under Russian law victims are empowered to appeal a defendant's sentence.

Enhanced security measures have been taken both inside and outside of the court.

The incident

During the course of Mirzayev's trial, witnesses seemed to agree on the crucial points of the incident that led to Agafonov's death, although these accounts tended to diverge in terms of who should shoulder the brunt of the blame.

According to witnesses that testified for both sides at trial, Ivan Agafonov was somewhere between tipsily gregarious and drunkenly raucous outside of Garazh that night. In the early hours of the morning, Mirzayev exited the club with his girlfriend Alla. Agafonov approached the couple with a toy car, and allegedly made a comment about picking up prostitutes, with reference to Alla. Words were exchanged between the two men, and ultimately Mirzayev hit Agafonov in the face. Agafonov, who was 23 cm. taller and 23 kg. heavier than Mirzayev, collapsed to the ground. Shortly thereafter, Agafonov's friends brought the then-relatively-coherent young man to a local hospital. According to Agafonov's friends, it took the hospital an inordinately long time to administer treatment. Agafonov slipped into a coma and died tragically four days later.

Procedural history

Upon learning of Agafonov's death on August 19, 2011, Mirzayev turned himself into the police, admitting that he had struck Agafonov prior to his death. Mirzayev was taken into custody, where he remained during the course of the investigation, which lasted nearly a year. Throughout the course of the proceedings, Mirzayev maintained that he had acted in self-defense, and that he had not intended to cause the death of the young victim.

Alexander Agafonov, father of the deceased studentAlexander Agafonov, father of the deceased student

Mirzayev's trial formally began on July 25, 2012. He pleaded not guilty to the charges lodged against him. He specifically disagreed with the prosecutor's statement that although he had not intended to cause the death of Agafonov, as a trained athlete he should have foreseen the likelihood of doing so prior to administering the blow.

Mirzayev was initially charged with intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm resulting in the death of the victim under Article 111 of the Russian Criminal Code. The prosecutor amended her complaint on the last day of trial, however, to charge the defendant instead with having negligently caused the death of the victim, under Article 109 of the Code. In amending her complaint, the prosecutor noted that Mirzayev had done all that he could to help the victim after the fact, and that direct cause could not be established between the blow delivered by Mirzayev and Agafonov's actual death. During the same hearing, she requested that Mirzayev be sentenced to two years in prison, including time served.

Mirzayev's sentence was scheduled to be handed down on Monday August 14, 2012, but the presiding judge announced instead his decision to review the case with additional expert testimonies and cross-examinations.

Mirzayev's MMA career

By all accounts, Mirzayev had a highly promising MMA career in front of him. According to international MMA authority Sherdog, he remained undefeated in the ring during the course of two years as a professional fighter. Two of his five victories were won by knockout punches. A page devoted to the once-rising star on Sherdog's website lists his height as 170.18 cm. (5'7), and his weight as 65.77 kg. (145 lbs.) On August 16, 2011 - directly between the incident and his arrest - Mirzayev made headlines throughout the MMA world for having signed a professional multi-fight contract with sponsor Bellator Fighting Championships. It remains to be seen whether his fighting career will continue in the future.

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MMA Champ Mirzayev convicted of negligence in teen's death, set free

14:00 27/11/2012 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion Rasul "Black Tiger" Mirzayev was convicted of having negligently caused the death of 19-year-old student Ivan Agafonov in a 2011 Moscow street brawl, and was released on time served.
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