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    Moldova accuses businessman of attempted coup

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    Moldova's Prosecutor General's Office has remanded Moldovan businessman Gabriel Stati in custody on suspicion of inciting mass riots and an attempted coup, a Prosecutor General's spokeswoman said on Friday.

    CHISINAU, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Moldova's Prosecutor General's Office has remanded Moldovan businessman Gabriel Stati in custody on suspicion of inciting mass riots and an attempted coup, a Prosecutor General's spokeswoman said on Friday.

    Maria Vieru said that Stati and his bodyguard, Auril Marinesku, would remain in custody for 30 days in Chisinau while the investigation into the case continues. If found guilty, Stati could face up to 15 years for inciting mass riots in the country and an additional 25 years for the attempted coup.

    Protests originally led by the opposition turned violent last week after the April 5 parliamentary election results were revealed, when some 10,000 rioters, mainly students, broke into the presidential residence and parliament in the capital, Chisinau. Several hundred protesters and police were injured in the violence.

    Stati is considered one of Moldova's richest businessmen, worth at least $1 billion, and works in the oil industry and construction. He is also developing martial arts in Moldova and recently headed the country's students and youth union that has more than 100,000 members.

    Stati and Marinesku were detained by Ukrainian authorities on April 8 at Odessa Airport and extradited to Moldova earlier this week.

    President Vladimir Voronin's Communist Party won almost 50% in the polls, which led to two-days of public disorder. Voronin is due to step down on May 7, but his party won just enough seats in the parliament to be able to elect a successor without requiring votes from any other party.

    Following the riots Voronin ordered a recount of the votes, which the country's top election official said had started on Wednesday.

    Media outlets have reported that a recount has reconfirmed the Communist Party's victory in the polls, although Moldova's Central Election Committee denied on Friday that they had completed the recount.

    "The Central Elections Committee is recounting by hand documents from 1,197 polling stations," committee head Yury Chokan said. "There have been no significant changes, and we will be able to announce the final results some time after lunch."

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