Prosecutor demands 12 years in jail for sham healer

Moscow, Russia - A prosecutor demanded 12 years in jail for pseudo healer Grigory Grabovoi, accused of grand fraud, the defendant’ s lawyer Vyacheslav Makarov told Itar-Tass.

On Wednesday, Moscow's Tagansky court opened the arguments of the parties. The prosecutor insists that Grabovoi be found guilty on all the 12 charges.

The lawyer argued that there was no evidence that Grabovoi had received any money, although he did develop his teaching.

Prosecutors earlier requalified charges against Grabovoi from fraud to grand fraud. Criminal proceedings were instituted in April, 2006.

The sect leader was charged under Article 159, Part IV of Russia's Criminal Code in 11 money theft episodes.

Among those who complained to police about Grabovoi were residents of Beslan, where he had held his seminars and promised to revive children killed in the Beslan hostage-taking raid.

Grabovoi is accused of developing fraudulent schemes and misappropriating the money of persons who trusted him in a pyramid scheme.

He taught people for money and then offered his students to sign contracts committing them to spread his teaching to Russian provinces. The students obliged, organizing seminars in their regions, which Grabovoi viewed as branches of his movement.

The interest was commercial: Grabovoi drew a revenue to the tune of 10 percent of the profit gained by regional organizations.

The seminars were mostly attended by grief-stricken persons, who found Grabovoi's teaching the only opportunity to get answers to the questions plaguing them, including Beslan residents.

According to prosecutors, the price of tuition at seminars -- that gathered up to 500 people -- was 2,000 roubles per person, while individual studies cost 39,100 roubles.

Grabovoi was detained after one of the seminars at Kosmos Hotel, where attendance usually ranged between 200 and 300.

The sect leader began his activity in the mid-1990s and initially was building his image in the mass media, to become famous and promote his teaching, prosecutors said.