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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Policeman Convicted in Bombings

A Moscow region court on Thursday found airport police Captain Mikhail Artamonov guilty of negligence in the deaths of 90 people in the suicide bombings of two planes last August and sentenced him to seven years in prison, Interfax reported.

Artamonov, 30, was accused of releasing two women suspected of carrying bombs onto two passenger planes in Domodedovo Airport without inspecting their belongings on Aug. 24.

A Volga Avia-Express Tu-134 and Sibir Tu-154 exploded in midair that night, killing everyone aboard both aircraft. Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the twin blasts.

Prosecutors had asked for six years for Artamonov, but the Domodedovo City Court judge handed down the maximum sentence allowed by law, Interfax reported. "The court has no doubt that Artamonov is guilty of negligence," Judge Natalya Mishina said. "The terrorists needed a more thorough check than Artamonov gave."

Artamonov maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying he was being made a scapegoat so that those who were really guilty could avoid prosecution.

In a closing statement to the court late last week, Artamonov said that the Law on Police held senior airline officials, not the police, accountable for not properly inspecting passengers' belongings, Gazeta reported.

On April 15, the Domodedovo court sentenced a former Sibir employee and a ticket scalper to 18 months each in a penal colony for their role in the bombings. Armen Arutyunyan and Nikolai Korenkov were convicted on charges of aiding and abetting terrorism and bribery.

Artamonov's lawyer Sergei Kazimirov said his client would appeal, Interfax reported.