SOME 18 suspected Russian mafia members have gone on trial in Spain in a huge money-laundering case.
A Russian MP, Vladislav Reznik, is among the accused, while alleged gang bosses Gennady Petrov and Alexander Malyshev are still at large and are believed to be back in Russia.
Reznik said he was at the court in Madrid to prove his innocence.
Five Spaniards are also on trial for allegedly aiding Russian criminals.
The case dates back to 2008, when Spanish police carried out Operation Troika, arresting 20 Russian mafia suspects, some of which had villas in the likes of Marbella and the Costa del Sol.
The courts in Spain believe more than €50 million of Russian mafia money was laundered by the so-called Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya gang, based in St Petersburg.
Reznik, the MP accused, is a member of the United Russia party and is loyal to President Vladimir Putin.
Prosecutors have demanded jail sentences of five-and-a-half years for most of the suspects and fines which could reach up to €100m.
The case rests partly on phone intercepts in which suspects are allegedly heard speaking to gang bosses.
One of the suspects, Mikhail Rebo, struck a deal with prosecutors, which saw him plead guilty in return for a reduced jail term of two years and a fine of €1.6m.
Gennady Petrov was arrested in the police raids of 2008 but later fled back to Russia.
The indictment says his gang ‘clearly managed to penetrate layers of the state apparatus’ and ‘has links to Russian economic, political, judicial and police power’.
Spaniard Antonio Fortuny is accused of creating an opaque business network that channelled mafia money into offshore accounts.
Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence agent who was notoriously murdered in London with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006, had been helping Spanish officials to investigate Russian organised crime.
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