Russian court sanctions arrest of man detained in Central Bank official's murder probe

A Moscow court on Monday sanctioned the arrest of a banker detained last week in connection with the investigation into the murder of a senior Central Bank official who oversaw efforts to clean up Russia's banking industry.

Alexei Frenkel was the second person to be ordered arrested by the Basmanny District Court in the probe of Andrei Kozlov's killing. Kozlov was shot point-blank Sept. 13 as he left a soccer game among bank employees in Moscow.

As Frenkel stood in a courtroom cage with his jacket over his head, Judge Alexander Rasnovsky ruled that the investigation had compiled ample evidence for holding him. Russian news agencies also cited Rasnovsky as saying that the court feared he might go into hiding or pressure witnesses if released.

Defense lawyer Igor Trunov said he would appeal the decision, the AP says.

"There were unfounded claims that he is hindering the investigation and is continuing to engage in criminal activities, which he has never done," Trunov told reporters outside the court house.

Trunov also suggested that he had been physically abused since his detention.

"His health is bad, he virtually can't sit down and his heart hurts," he said. "We have already requested from the Prosecutor General's Office that he be given a medical examination and immediate medical assistance."

Last week, Trunov said authorities had suspected Frenkel of helping to organize Kozlov's murder.

Frenkel was a former top official with VIP Bank, which was one of many financial institutions closed down over the past three years by the Central Bank at Kozlov's initiative.

The Basmanny court on Friday sanctioned the arrest of Liana Askerova.

Kozlov oversaw a continuing cleanup of Russia's banking sector, closing down dozens of banks suspected of money-laundering. His slaying shocked the foreign investor community and served as a reminder of persistent lawlessness in Russia.

Russian observers have speculated that the killing was ordered by criminals under pressure from Kozlov's campaign against money-laundering and organized crime.

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