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Former Ukraine PM released from prison, immigration status uncertain

Former Ukraine Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko [JURIST news archive] was released [AP report] from a US federal prison on Thursday and, according to a spokeswoman for US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website], will go before an immigration judge to determine whether he can stay in the country. ICE Spokeswoman Lori Haley refused to say where Lazarenko is currently being held. Lazarenko has been in the US since 1999 when he fled to the country for political asylum and was later convicted in a US court of corruption and extortion during his time in office in Ukraine.

In 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] denied [JURIST report] Lazarenko's request for an en banc rehearing after his conviction. He was sentenced [JURIST report] in 2006 to nine years in prison. A judge in 2005 threw out [JURIST report] 15 of the 29 corruption-related charges for which a jury originally convicted him, saying there was not enough evidence to sustain them. Lazarenko was prime minister of Ukraine from 1996-97.

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