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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baku Convicts 5 in U.S. Embassy Case

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- A Baku court on Friday found a former deputy Baku mayor and four others guilty of misappropriating money that the U.S. Embassy paid for expanding its territory and sentenced them to up to 12 years imprisonment.

In 1999, the embassy transferred $4.68 million to the Baku mayor's office to obtain a 99-year lease on adjacent property that the embassy wanted to use to expand its operations. Of that amount, $2.6 million was to be used to compensate residents of apartment buildings on that land.

Authorities, however, found that residents who left their apartments received only a portion of the money that was due to them. The court found former First Deputy Mayor Eldaniz Lahijev and another four officials from the mayor's office guilty of siphoning off about $510,000 of the money.

Lahijev was sentenced to 12 years behind bars and his four co-workers were handed down sentences ranging from four to eight years in prison.