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Touretski's Wife Won't Have to Testify -- September 10, 2001

CANBERRA, Australia, Sept 10. AN Australian court ruled today that it could not compel the wife of top swimming coach Gennadi Touretski to give evidence against her husband, who has been charged with the possession of anabolic steroids.

Lawyers for the Touretskis said earlier this month that Inna Touretski did not want to give evidence against her husband because it could destroy their marriage.

Prosecutors wanted her to take the witness box at a committal hearing next month because they believe her evidence is central to their case.

But magistrate John Burns said she could not be compelled to give evidence because the consequences of her evidence could have a serious effect on their marriage.

"I am satisfied that the nature and extent of the harm which might be occasioned to the relationship...as husband and wife, outweighs the desirability of having the evidence given," Burns told the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court.

Under Australian law, a spouse can be excused from giving evidence in court if the harm to their relationship outweighs the importance of the testimony.

Russian-born Touretski has been charged with possessing a steroid, allegedly found in a safe stolen from his home in April.

Touretski, who coaches Olympic gold medalists Alex Popov and Michael Klim, has maintained his innocence.

He has been suspended on full pay from his job at the Australian Institute of Sport pending the outcome of the case.