July 8, 2008 / 2:31 PM / in 9 years

Court convicts man who says he can raise dead

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Moscow court convicted a man of fraud on Monday for preying on people mourning loved ones by saying he could resurrect the dead.

<p>Grigory Grabovoy stands inside an iron cage at a Moscow's court, July 7, 2008. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin</p>

Grigory Grabovoy stood passively inside an iron cage as he was sentenced to 11 years in prison working hard labor in a case which has grabbed headlines around Russia.

“He used a special method of influencing people distressed by the loss of relatives or the illness of loved ones,” the judge said as he found Grabovoy guilty of 11 cases of fraud.

In one case from 2003 a man paid Grabovoy 39,500 roubles ($1,700) to attempt to cure his dying parents and in another case a woman paid him 118,000 roubles to try to resurrect her two dead sons.

Grabovoy had also once met with mothers of children killed at a school siege in the south Russian town of Beslan in 2004 -- where he had promised to resurrect their children for a fee -- although Monday’s verdict was not linked to this meeting.

Over 300 people -- mainly children -- died during a botched operations to rescue the hostages.

Dozens of Grabovoy’s supporters crowded outside the scruffy court house in a Moscow suburb.

Despite the guilty verdict his mainly older supporters still believe Grabovoy has powers which can help them and that he has been unfairly persecuted and Grabovoy’s lawyer vowed to appeal the ruling.

“We think the sentence is based on speculation and is absolutely unfair,” lawyer Mikhail Tsyganenko said.

At the height of his support Grabovoy used to draw hundreds of people to listen to his seminars.

Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Stephen Weeks

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