Source AP ©

Two brothers indicted for planned bus explosion in Moldova

A court found two brothers guilty of making an improvised bomb which exploded on a small bus last year in province of Trans-Dniester, killing eight and injuring 46.

The men, identified as Aleksandr and Sergey Varbasevici, were sentenced Wednesday by a court in the province's capital, Tiraspol, to nine and 10 years in prison, respectively.

Prosecutors claimed during the trial that the two made the bomb and sold it to a woman, Elena Litvinenko, who was transporting it on the bus when it exploded on July 6, 2006. She died in the explosion.

Police found weapons and ammunition, including grenades and explosives in the brothers' house, according to the news report. The men, while acknowledging the weapons belonged to them, denied during the trial that they had sold the bomb that exploded on the bus.

Their lawyer, Evgeny Yablokov, was reported by Olvia as saying he would appeal the court ruling.

Trans-Dniester, a small pro-Russian enclave in eastern Moldova, declared independence in 1991 and fought a war with Moldova in 1992 which left more than 1,000 people dead. Trans-Dniester is not recognized internationally, but receives support from Russia, which considers it strategically important and keeps 1,500 troops there. The Russian troops act as peacekeepers and guard large weapons storage facilities left over from the former Soviet military.

In recent years, Moldova has asked Russia to withdraw the troops but Russia has refused, citing strategic reasons and tensions in the region.

There have been isolated incidents involving weapons in Trans-Dniester, which has been accused by Moldova of being rife with weapons smugglers.

In a similar incident in August 2006, an improvised bomb exploded on a bus, killing two people and injuring 10 others. A suspect, Sergey Kapustin, was sentenced in March to 20 years in prison for detonating the bomb.