Updated at 19:45,21-02-2018

Alleged subway bomb hoaxer, sex offender gets nine years in prison

Vyachaslaw BUDKEVICH, Naviny.by

A district judge in Minsk on Tuesday imposed a nine-year prison sentence on of a man arrested over an SMS message containing a hoax bomb threat and later charged with sexual offenses.

The trial of 34-year-old Kanstantsin Simanaw began in the Tsentralny District Court in Minsk on September 15 behind closed doors.

All subway stations in Minsk were closed for about three hours on the afternoon of February 26 after a young woman reported seeing Mr. Simanaw write on his mobile phone that he was going to detonate an explosive device in the subway.

The man, an employee of Minsk Tractor Works, was soon found, but no bomb was discovered.

Mr. Simanaw was charged with making a false bomb report, which allegedly caused damage estimated at 90 million rubels ($9,240).

According to investigators, they subsequently uncovered evidence that Mr. Simanaw had committed a number of other crimes. In particular, he was charged with raping a girl known to be a legal minor (under 18 years of age), engaging in other sexual activities with a person under 16 years of age, and showing pornographic movies to a boy aged under 18.

Mr. Simanaw suffers from some mental problems and alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, he was found to be sane.

On Tuesday, the Tsentralny District Court’s judge found Mr. Simanaw guilty on all charges and sentenced him to a total of nine years in prison. The man was also ordered to pay 135.6 million rubels to the Minsk city police department and 49.9 million rubels to public transport company KUP Minsktrans by way of compensation. The judge dismissed a 233.7-million suit by subway operator KUP Minski Metrapaliten.

Additional buses, trackless trolleys and streetcars were deployed to make up for the 28 closed subway stations all over Minsk on February 26.

Mr. Simanaw sent the text message to his female acquaintance from a train car for motives that were not immediately clear.

The Minsk city police department reported following the closure of the Minsk subway system that “suspicious objects” had been discovered at a number of stations.

Passengers were told not to panic as the stations were evacuated at about 2:45 p.m. Buses and trackless trolleys in downtown Minsk became increasingly crowded as the evening rush hour approached.

The subway stations were reopened at 5:20 p.m. following the completion of the security operation.