A Washington state businessman was convicted here Wednesday of “over-zealous self-defense” in the shooting death of a sawmill worker.
A three-judge panel sentenced George Risley of Woodland, Wash., to 18 months in prison, with credit for 107 days already served, or to monetary penalties, said a Western diplomat who observed the trial.
Risley has been released and is opting for the fine - $612 plus 25 percent of his salary for the 14-1/2 months of his sentence remaining, said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
The judges found Risley, 56, innocent of a second charge of “intentional murder” in the Dec. 9 death of saw operator J. Bayarsaikhan, 33.
As things now stand, he must stay in Mongolia for the 14-1/2 months remaining of his sentence, said Murray spokesman Rex Carney in Washington, D.C.
U.S. officials will continue to monitor the situation.
“Now we must focus our attention on getting George home as soon as possible,” Murray said.
Family members in the United States expressed relief.
“People here are pretty excited. It’s a whole lot better than it could have been,” said Tom Risley, one of Risley’s sons in Woodland, Wash.
Risley was sent to Mongolia in March 1997 by Seattle-based Pacific American Commercial Co. to set up a sawmill and train workers in the town of Moron, 250 miles northeast of the capital of Ulan Bator.
He has said the shooting occurred when the worker was drunk and charged him with a knife. He says he first fired two warning shots in the air, and then shot the worker in selfdefense.
Under Mongolian law, the prosecutor and Risley may appeal Wednesday’s verdict within 10 days.
His company, PACO, apparently will be required to support Bayarsaikhan’s wife and children until the youngest child is 18.