bullets
Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pixabay

Moscow: A former top official in the Russian prison service shot and killed himself in a Moscow court on Wednesday shortly after being jailed for extortion, a court spokeswoman said.

Viktor Sviridov, who previously headed the prison service's transport department, "committed suicide in the courtroom by shooting himself in the chest", a spokeswoman for Moscow City Court told AFP.

She did not provide further details.

The pistol Sviridov used was given to him as an award, his lawyer Alexander Kotelnitsky told Rossiya 24 television.

Sviridov had pleaded guilty to extorting 10 million rubles ($159,000;Dh584,038) from a former deputy director of the prison service. The Chertanovo district court sentenced him to three years in a penal colony.

His sentence was less than the maximum possible term of 15 years because he had been diagnosed with advanced cancer, Russian media reported.

It was unclear how the former official, who had been living at home while subject to a travel ban, managed to bring a gun into a court with metal detectors at the entrance.

The Moscow City Court spokeswoman said investigators were "looking into the circumstances".

Investigations into corruption in the prison service have uncovered rampant violations involving officials and several have killed themselves.

A former head of the prison service, Alexander Reimer, was sentenced to eight years in 2017 for embezzling millions of dollars of state funding allocated to buy electronic bracelets.