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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Re-evaluation Could Lead to Budanov Release

Experts have completed a third psychiatric evaluation of Colonel Yury Budanov, who is charged with abducting and murdering an 18-year-old Chechen girl, and sent the results Tuesday to the military court hearing the trial, Interfax reported.

The agency said experts at Moscow's Serbsky Institute declined to disclose the results of the evaluation, but cited "sources close to Budanov" as saying the latest examination had deemed the colonel temporarily insane at the time of the murder, which could lead to a significant decrease in Budanov's sentence or even to his release.

Budanov's lawyer, Anatoly Mukhin, could not confirm these reports, but said in remarks published by the Izvestia daily on Tuesday that he hoped they were true.

Budanov is accused of abducting Elza Kungayeva from her home in the Chechen village of Tangi-Chu in March last year and strangling her several hours later in his private quarters. His trial opened at a military court in Rostov-on-Don early in the spring of this year.

The trial was adjourned in July after Judge Viktor Kostin gave in to the demands of a military psychiatrist who observed Budanov during the trial. The psychiatrist, Leonid Pustovalov, said both psychiatric evaluations conducted before the trial had been inconclusive.

If Budanov is found temporarily insane, the charges against him would change. While murder carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, murder in the state of temporary insanity is punishable by up to three years in prison. Budanov has spent more than 18 months behind bars, meaning that, in the event the charges are changed, he will already have served more than half his maximum sentence, which would allow him to apply for parole.

Budanov was cleared of rape charges during the pretrial investigation, but the trial has revealed many discrepancies between the investigators' findings and the testimony of Kungayeva's family.

The family has presented the court with a copy of a forensics report saying the girl had been raped and sodomized before her death. However, the report presented by investigators to the court -- signed by the same military forensics expert on the same day as the report presented by Kungayeva's family -- said it was impossible to establish whether she had been raped before or after her death.

Judge Kostin has ruled that the two forensics reports would have to be re-evaluated to determine whether the girl had been raped. Budanov's trial is supposed to resume in a month's time, Interfax reported.