British man in Moscow jail critically ill: lawyer

3rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British man held in a Moscow jail and awaiting trial for illegal business activities is in a "critical condition," his lawyer said Wednesday, while the prison service denied the claim.

Darren Keane, 43, arrested in a probe into illegal casinos, is suffering from a thrombophlebitis, a condition causing blood clots, and "his condition is basically critical," lawyer Anna Medvedeva told AFP.

"His left leg has swollen up and he has a temperature."

Keane has been held in the notorious Butyrskaya prison since late June after being charged with illegal entrepreneurship, although the jail does not have the right equipment to diagnose his condition, the lawyer said.

His relatives are passing medicine to him, without a doctor monitoring his condition, she said.

"The jail does not have the necessary equipment to diagnose a blood clot," she said. "He is not being given medicine, he is receiving it in an uncontrolled way."

A spokeswoman for the Federal Prison Service told AFP that Keane was receiving treatment at the better-equipped Matrosskaya Tishina jail, however, and denied he was seriously ill.

"I spoke with the (Matrosskaya Tishina) prison chief. He said he is in a satisfactory condition. He is receiving the medical treatment that he needs," she said.

The case recalls that of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for a Western investment fund, who was being held in a fraud probe and died in 2009 at 37 after his medical conditions went untreated in squalid conditions.

His shocking death prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to introduce new legislation on the detention of those accused of white collar crimes.

But Keane's lawyer said that a court ruled he should be jailed pre-trial because he is a foreigner and could flee abroad.

Lawyers have asked the investigator to grant him house arrest, she said, while a permanent transfer to Matrosskaya Tishina was also being discussed.

Keane is the CEO of a company called Storm International that operates casinos in the former Soviet Union and ran a vast casino in central Moscow until casinos were largely outlawed in Russia in 2009.

He was detained in an investigation into underground gambling instigated by the FSB security services and could serve five years if convicted, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a police source.

Russia in 2009 restricted gambling to a handful of gaming zones in remote locations.

© 2011 AFP

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