Crab importer acquitted, rearrested in Russia
Arkadi Gontmakher, founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based crab importer Global Fishing, was found innocent in Russia on Thursday of all charges related to illegally importing Russian king crab into the United States, according to Gontmakher’s lawyer.
Gontmakher has been detained in a Russian prison since September 2007 while prosecutors investigated allegations of overfishing, a charge punishable by a maximum two-year sentence. However, immediately following his acquittal, Russian police rearrested and charged him with an almost identical set of violations.
According to his attorney, Joseph Brand of Patton Boggs LLC in Washington, D.C., Gontmakher suffers from a serous heart condition and was taken to the hospital twice on Thursday, where he remains in a cardiac center.
“Mr. Gontmakher has been in jail for nearly 39 months — far beyond the lawful limit in Russia. He was tried and found innocent of all charges. But he has not been freed,” said Joseph Brand, an attorney for Gontmakher. “The Russian Militia will not release Mr. Gontmakher, and his life is now at stake as he faces almost identical set of charges. This outrageous action by the Russian Militia violates Mr. Gontmakher’s inalienable rights to life, liberty and due process of law.”