Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rokhlina Conviction Is Overturned

The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the conviction of the widow of prominent lawmaker General Lev Rokhlin for his death and ordered a new investigation into the 1998 murder.

The court also ordered that Tamara Rokhlina be freed from prison.

Rokhlina has been in prison since her arrest on the night of her husband's killing in July 1998. The Naro-Fominsk district court in the Moscow region found her guilty of murder in November 2000 and sentenced her to eight years in prison. In December, the Moscow regional court reduced her sentence to four years.

Rokhlina will not be able to leave Moscow while prosecutors carry out a new investigation, Rokhlina's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

"But the most important thing now is that she will be released," Kucherena said.

He said he was setting out for the prison in Mozhaisk where Rokhlina was being held to bring her home. Kucherena said his client is suffering from heart problems and will be admitted to the hospital.

The Mozhaisk warden told ORT television that Rokhlina will probably not be released for several days, because it will take some time to process the necessary paperwork.

Rokhlina initially confessed to killing her husband, a vocal critic of then-President Boris Yeltsin, when she was arrested. However, she later said that her confession had been made under pressure, and that her husband had been killed by unknown assailants for political reasons.

Relatives and supporters have suggested that Rokhlina confessed because her husband's killers threatened her children.

The Prosecutor General's Office said Thursday that it stands by its original investigation, and plans to appeal the Supreme Court's decision.

Prosecutor Sergei Gribinyuchenko said no evidence had been found to support Rokhlina's testimony that someone had entered her house the night of the murder.

Rokhlina's lawyer said the Supreme Court's decision to order a new trial was probably based on contradictory testimony from Alexander Pleskachyov, Rokhlin's bodyguard, as well as the investigation into the possible presence of another person in the Rokhlin house the night of the killing.

Kucherena added that he doubted prosecutors will be able to come up with any new evidence.

"The verdict was not based on evidence but on assumptions made by the investigators," he said.

In finding Rokhlina guilty, the Naro-Fominsk court said Rokhlina had grown increasingly frustrated with her husband for devoting too much time to politics and neglecting his family, especially his son who suffers from a grave form of epilepsy. The family had been celebrating the boy's birthday the night of the murder, according to news reports.

Lev Rokhlin, a career soldier, won wide praise for his performance during the 1994-96 Chechen war. He later refused to accept a medal for valor in combat, saying he didn't want to be decorated for a war that involved attacks on fellow Russian citizens.

He was elected to the State Duma in 1995 and gained popularity by exposing military corruption and calling for an opposition political movement in the ranks. He was shot with his own pistol while he was asleep in his country house outside Moscow.