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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mikhailov Case Winds Down As Lawyers Make Final Pleas




GENEVA -- A Swiss prosecutor said Thursday that alleged Russian mafia boss Sergei Mikhailov posed a real threat to Western society and should be found guilty of charges of belonging to an illegal organization.


Speaking at the end of a two-week trial, Jean-Louis Crochet praised all the witnesses who had dared to testify against Mikhailov, some under heavy protection.


"If you find him guilty you will have said he has tried to disrupt national order and infiltrate himself into Switzerland,'' Crochet told the jury of six. "We will have succeeded in putting an end sufficiently early to the gangrene for Western society which organized crime represents.''


Defense lawyer Xavier Magne said his client should be acquitted because the charges against him were without foundation.


Magne said Mikhailov was a pawn in the fight against organized crime in Switzerland, even though nobody had filed for his extradition.


Mikhailov, 40, is charged with being a member in a criminal organization and lesser charges of forgery and violating Switzerland's property laws.


In a four-hour summation, Crochet pointed to the evidence of witnesses from half a dozen countries about Mikhailov's activities. He highlighted the testimony of retired FBI Special Agent Robert Levinson, who described the structure of the Solntsevskaya mafia organization, of which Mikhailov is allegedly the leader, and its links to the United States.


Crochet also praised the courage of witnesses who told the court they had been subject to threats and beatings from Solntsevskaya.


"Organized crime has the aim of taking control of the economy and exerting influence over politics. The rule of silence is the golden rule,'' he said.


Mikhailov, who has been in custody in Switzerland for two years, denies the charges against him and claims he is an ordinary businessman, though he admits to being "very, very rich.''


The verdict is expected Friday or Saturday. If convicted, Mikhailov faces a maximum of 7 1/2 years in jail.