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Russian cleared of mafia links receives compensation

A Russian businessman who was acquitted of charges that he belonged to a criminal organisation, has been awarded damages of SFr800,000 ($447,000) for the two years he spent in a Swiss jail awaiting his trial.

The Federal Court on Thursday ordered canton Geneva to compensate Sergei Mikhailov for income allegedly lost during those two years.

It will also have to pay Mikhailov SFr10,000 towards his expenses.

Mikhailov, 42, was held in a Geneva prison for 778 days before his high-profile trial in 1998. He was accused of being the boss of a Moscow-based mafia gang, and was tried under unprecedented security with some of the 90 witnesses under police protection.

He sued canton Geneva after returning to Russia after his acquittal in December 1998. In July, a Geneva court awarded Mikhailov the full amount he had claimed, although the cantonal authorities appealed against the decision.

The Federal Court has now rejected the appeal, saying the authorities could only challenge a decision if it threatened their autonomy.

swissinfo with agencies

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