Kyrgyzstan government hands Valeri Belokon a '20-year sentence'

Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon
Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon
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Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon has been handed a 20-year custodial sentence following a court hearing in Kyrgyzstan, it has been reported.

Belokon Holdings, the main company of Valeri Belokon, says a confidential court hearing was called in his absence on May 12.

Belokon, the former shareholder of Manas Bank, was convicted along with fellow Latvian citizens and former executives Jevgenijs Verbickis, Anita Lase and Yuri Kachnov.

They were sentenced to serve 20 years "custodial service".

Belokon Holdings said it does not possess any official information about the sentences and doesn't recognise the judgements. They allege that prior notice was not given to their lawyers and as such, the sentences won't be enforced.

It also claims the sentences are "revenge" for a previous judgement which ordered the Kyrgyz government to pay Mr Belokon $16.5m as compensation.

A spokesperson for Belokon Holdings told The Gazette: "Kyrgyzstan crucially violated the fundamental principles of criminal law. The judgment therefore will not be recognised and will not be enforced in the Republic of Latvia, the European Union and other civilized countries.

"As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia has previously stated, "(..) we must express our concern about the gross violations of the Kyrgyz Republic's criminal procedural norms by certain members of the country's law enforcement agencies in this case.

"In this connection, the Republic of Latvia will reserve its right to undertake an adequate response.

“We firmly believe that the court made its judgment in revenge for the unfavourable international arbitration award that Kyrgyzstan received and whereby the Kyrgyz Government was ordered to pay Latvian citizen Valeri Belokon US$16.5 million as compensation."

In 2010, after the overthrow of the Kyrgyzstan government, the new political regime expropriated the previously Belokon owned Manas Bank.

Belokon was suspended from Blackpool FC's board in March of this year following disputed allegations of money laundering.

The club's owners, the Oystons, and Mr Belokon are also set to go head to head in the summer in a separate legal case in the High Court in London.