AFP. 29 January 2002. Family of ex-KGB agent jailed in Latvia complains
to European court.

RIGA -- The family of an ailing 85-year-old ex-Soviet security agent
jailed in Latvia for [so-called] Stalin-era crimes has filed a complaint
over his treatment to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,
their lawyer said Tuesday.

Mikhail Farbtukh contends that he "was tried under laws which did not
exist at the time of his alleged crime and the conditions of his
detention amount to inhumane treatment and torture," lawyer Aleksanders
Ogurcovs told AFP.

Farbtukh was sentenced in 2000 to five years in jail for helping deport
31 Latvian families during a Stalinist purge in 1941.

The complaint filed by Farbtukh's 80-year-old wife, Anna, and their son
Vladimir, comes after a Latvian court last spring rejected an appeal for
his release despite a report by prison doctors, supported by the head of
the country's prison service, that he was too sick to stay in jail.

Judges ruled that Farbtukh's health had not deteriorated significantly
since his conviction, a claim rejected by Ogurcovs.

"His condition is very severe, he needs constant help, he can't even go
to the toilet on his own and has a heart condition," said Ogurcovs.

Farbtukh continues to maintain he did not participate in the rounding up
of thousands of innocent Latvians who were then sent to Siberian labor
camps where many died of disease and deprivation.

Latvia has led former Soviet countries in trying former security agents
responsible for the deaths of thousands in the 1940s.

Unlike neighboring Estonia, it has handed out jail terms rather than
suspended sentences.

"It's not right for a person my age to be in here," Frabtukh told AFP
ahead of his appeal hearing last March.

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Barry Stoller

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