Moldova asks Ukraine to extradite businessman Gabriel Stati

15:04, 09 April 2009
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He is suspected of involvement in the coup attempt

Moldovan businessman Gabriel Stati, suspected of involvement in the coup attempt, has been detained in Ukraine, a source at the Moldovan Prosecutor General`s Office told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

"The Moldovan authorities officially requested Kiev to extradite him, for investigation into his involvement in the government overthrow attempt," the source said, according to Itar-Tass.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Voronin, at a meeting with senior government officials, said police had information that businessman Gabriel Stati had masterminded the riots.

His father is the owner of the ASCOM company, which produces gas and oil in Kazakhstan and a number of African countries.

Police said Stati left Moldova after the authorities arrested some 200 on suspicion of involvement in pogroms in the republic`s capital.

The Moldova Prosecutor General`s Office and the Interior Ministry have set up a special group to probe the riots.

"It includes a team of experienced investigators from the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor General`s Office and the city prosecutor`s office. It is facing a tremendous amount of work. It will investigate each episode of the crimes committed during mass disturbances," Prosecutor General Valeriu Gurbulea said.

Gurbulea, in comments on the riots, said prosecutors were mulling official charges against the detainees.

"We`ll charge them not only with the attempt to stage a government overthrow, and incitement to mass disturbances and participation in them, but also with the theft of tangible assets," the prosecutor general said.

"The looters caused a huge damage and grabbed everything they could lay their hands on; they even took away the speaker`s fountain pen," Gurbulea said.

"There are foreigners among the detained participants and organizers of mass disturbances in Chisinau. We have video tapes and we`re working carefully to identity certain individuals.

"Investigators see "a Romanian connection" in the case over the riots. We cannot disclose details of the on-going probe, but the Romanian connection is clearly seen, which is proven by hard evidence, such as numerous writings in Romanian left at crime scenes and many other details, but it`s premature to elaborate in the interests of the investigation," the prosecutor said.

He also said journalist Natalia Morar, detained in Moldova, has been officially charged with "calls for organizing and staging mass disturbances."

Gurbulea said some masterminds of the riots had fled the country.

"We also know that young people who studied in Romania, were among the most aggressive people during the disturbances. It`s a fact," he said.

Moldova said it would expel three Romanian journalists, and President Voronin earlier said the Romanian Ambassador would be declared persona non-grata.

There were no protests on Moldova`s central square on Thursday as life began to take its normal course.

Police and special task forces in the morning cordoned off the damaged buildings of the parliament and the presidential administration. City utility services are clearing the area.

The republic`s Education Ministry said studies had resumed at schools and colleges.

The students and schoolchildren, who took part in disturbances, have been warned that the authorities would take strict administrative measures against them.

The situation in the city has been calm, but reinforced police units will patrol government buildings at night.

On Thursday, the presidium of Ukraine`s Communist Party said in a statement " a scenario of government overthrow has been launched in Moldova, with the aim of deposing the Communists."

"Having suffered a crushing defeat at the April 5 parliamentary elections, the masters of the foreign Opposition embarked upon the path of armed mutiny," and announced that the election results had been rigged. They did it despite the fact that international observed had not detected serious violations during the voting," the document said.

"The thugs led into the Chisinau streets by these political bankrupts, staged mass pogroms and seized the parliament and the presidential administration. It should be noted that the mutineers hung out flags of the neighboring Romania on the captured administrative buildings. The actions were accompanied by slogans for Moldova`s uniting with Romania.

"The presidium of the central committee of the Ukrainian Communist party notes that the government overthrow attempt in the Republic of Moldova cannot be viewed separately from the events which began with the establishment of the Saakashvili dictatorship in Georgia in 2003-2004 and the "orange putsch in Ukraine."

The Ukrainian Communists said they supported the actions by the Moldova leadership, saying they were "firmly convinced that the foreign puppets` plot in Moldova had ignominiously failed as it had in Belarus."


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