Supreme Court cuts ex-general's jail term to 18 years - 1

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(Recasts throughout, adds details, background in paras 3-7)

MOSCOW, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - The military board of Russia's Supreme Court on Friday reduced a prison sentence by two years for Vladimir Ganeyev, ex-security chief at the emergencies ministry, convicted of corruption charges.

Lt.-Gen. Ganeyev, whose sentence was cut from 20 to 18 years, was arrested in a high-profile corruption operation in 2003 and charged with organizing a criminal group, abuse of office and falsifying investigative documents over a period of six years.

The court rejected the general's appeal, but dropped charges of possession of illegal drugs and trading in precious metals as the statute of limitations had expired. The court also reduced prison terms for the other six police officers involved in the case.

Ganeyev's accomplices - six officers from the Moscow Criminal Investigations Department - were initially given prison terms ranging from 15 to 20 years. The court also stripped the convicted men of their ranks and decorations.

According to investigators, Ganeyev and his accomplices formed a criminal group in 1997, extorting large sums of money from businessmen on threats of violence, illegal prosecution and obstruction of their businesses. They used the money extorted to buy cars and real estate in Russia and overseas.

Police seized $3 million from bank deposit boxes rented by the group, prosecutors said earlier, adding that four other suspects in the case had been arrested and one was currently on the wanted list.

Ganeyev's defense said it would appeal the Supreme Court's ruling.

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