Amur pedophile saved from lynching, sent to jail

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Alexei Zhitsky, whom police had to rescue from an angry crowd, was found guilty of murder, sexual assault and rape and sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday, investigators said.

Alexei Zhitsky, whom police had to rescue from an angry crowd, was found guilty of murder, sexual assault and rape and sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday, investigators said.

Zhitsky, who already served an eight-year prison term for killing a woman, was briefly detained in late July on charges of raping a seven-year-old girl in the Far Eastern Amur Region.

When police released him citing controversial testimony of the victim and the lack of evidence, about 300 angry residents surrounded his house and threatened to lynch him. He was rescued by police, who dressed him in a police uniform and escorted him out of the besieged building.

The story led to numerous inspections in various law-enforcement bodies. Two police officers were charged with abuse of power. The investigator who ordered Zhitsky's release was fired and charged with negligence.

When the man dubbed by the media the "Amur pedophile" was arrested, he also confessed to killing his 40-year-old girlfriend in 2009, but later withdrew his testimony.

"Zhitsky pleaded not guilty to murder and rape. The defense lawyer has not yet announced whether he would appeal the sentence,” said Alexei Lubinsky, an aide to the local investigation department chief.

Prosecutors said they had no intentions of appealing the ruling.

"We requested a 29-year prison term for Zhitsky, but I’m quite satisfied with the court’s verdict,” a spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office, Boris Kononenko, said. “I don’t see any grounds for appeal.”

“As far as the defense is concerned, they will act according to the defendant’s stance, so far lawyers are silent about their intentions of appealing the verdict,” Kononenko added.

The court also ordered Zhitsky to pay one million rubles (around $31,400) to relatives of the dead woman and 500,000 rubles to the raped girl and her family.

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