Moscow court delays hearing on police phone tap until Aug.22

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MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court has postponed a hearing until August 22 into a case of five senior police officers charged with illegal phone tapping in return for a $42,000 bribe.

The Moscow City Court put off the hearing after a defense lawyer failed to turn up.

Investigators said Moscow businessman, Yevgeny Slavinsky, asked one of the defendants, Boris Plotnikov, in May 2006 to tap certain conversations for him. Plotnikov contacted colleagues who had access to the technology and the conversations were recorded on discs for the businessman, prosecutors said.

Under Russian law, phones can only be tapped if sanctioned by a court or as part of an investigation. The police officers, if found guilty, could face up to 12 years in prison, and Slavinsky, who has been charged with bribery, could receive eight years.

In June, another senior Moscow police officer was remanded in custody in an alleged phone tapping case. The man received a bribe of $10,000 and 260,000 rubles.

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