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Page last updated at 20:50 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 21:50 UK

Jail sentence for Beslan 'healer'

Grigory Grabovoi in court, 7 July 2008
Grabovoi was convicted of all the fraud charges against him

A self-styled healer who claimed he could resurrect children killed in the Beslan school siege has been sentenced to 11 years in jail in Russia.

A Moscow court found Grigory Grabovoi guilty on several counts of obtaining money through fraudulent means.

Beslan residents were among those who accused Mr Grabovoi of accepting money for promising to bring back the dead or cure serious illnesses.

He denied all charges, saying he was a victim of religious persecution.

Nearly 200 children and 150 adults were killed when Russian forces stormed the school in Beslan in September 2004.

Security forces entered the building to force out Chechen rebels who had taken more than 1,000 people hostage.

Hierarchy of healers

Grabovoi was convicted on 11 counts of fraud by Moscow's Tagansky court, Russian media reported.

In its verdict, the court said Grabovoi "deceived" people, "guaranteeing" a happy outcome to those who turned to him after the death of a loved one or close relative, Interfax news agency reported.

His methods included the use of "psychological pressure" and amounted to the theft of property and ownership rights, the court's judge added.

The prosecution said Grabovoi established a pyramid-style hierarchy of trained "healers", each of whom pledged to spread his teachings around Russia, for a suitable fee.

Grabovoi himself received a fee of 10% of the profits made by regional organisations.

Each person who used Grabovoi's services paid almost 40,000 roubles ($1,700).

Defence lawyers said Grabovoi was not guilty, describing his work as "political, public, religious and research activities", Interfax reported.

They said there was no evidence to suggest that Grabovoi actually received any money for his services, Itar-Tass reported.

He will be sentenced at a later date.


SEE ALSO
Beslan attacker jailed for life
26 May 06 |  Europe

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