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Court refuses to parole colonel convicted of killing Chechen girl

ULYANOVSK, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - A regional court has refused to parole a former Russian military officer sentenced to 10 years in jail for the murder of a young Chechen woman, a court official said Monday.

Yury Budanov, a former commander of the 160th Tank Regiment during the second campaign in Chechnya, was convicted of murdering an 18-year-old Chechen, Elsa Kungayeva in the summer of 2000.

"The court took into account the opinion of the prison administration, which is not as yet certain that the convict has reformed," the presiding judge said, adding that his character reference described Budanov as emotionally unstable and unbalanced.

Budanov had asked for parole citing the illness of his parents.

"That is not sufficient cause," the judge said.

Budanov admitted killing Kungayeva, but claimed temporary insanity, saying he strangled her in a fit of rage because he thought she was a sniper.

Budanov's conviction came after a lengthy legal process that saw a retrial, numerous psychiatric reports, and was then followed by an appeal for clemency from the president.

Russian society was divided over the matter, with human rights activists seeking his conviction, and other groups, including representatives of the Army, supporting him.

In December 2002, a court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don accepted Budanov's defense and acquitted him, but Russia's Supreme Court overturned that verdict in February 2003 and ordered a retrial.

In July 2003, the military tribunal of the North Caucasus Military District sentenced Budanov to 10 years and stripped him of his rank and honors after a two-year trial.

In September 2004, the then governor of the Ulyanovsk Region, General Vladimir Shamanov, who commanded the 58th Caucasian Army during Chechen campaigns, signed an appeal to seek a pardon for his former subordinate.

The appeal was sent to President Vladimir Putin, as the supreme commander of the Russian Armed Forces. As a governor, Shamanov was entitled to appeal to the president to pardon any criminal serving his term in prison camps in his territory.

The appeal was turned down. The Kremlin said the verdict was the correct decision that did not represent a blow to the Russian Army but punished those who tarnished its reputation.

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