The Bill Browder case had been pushed back for another week due to a scheduling conflict with his defence attorney, with a Nicosia judge setting a new hearing date for July 18.
The Nicosia District Court was scheduled to hear a motion from Bill Browder’s lawyer seeking an order that would prevent Cyprus from acting on a Russian warrant against the investor who became a Putin critic.
Russian authorities have accused Browder, an American-born financier and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, of tax fraud and being a threat to national security.
But Browder says Russian authorities are after him because he exposed corruption, arguing that an international warrant for his arrest is politically motivated.
The state’s attorney general in Cyprus says there was no legal basis for Nicosia to refuse cooperating with Russia on the extradition request
In recent years, western governments came to the support of Browder, whose account auditor Sergei Magnitsky had helped expose corruption but later died in a Russian prison.
The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law in 2012 by US President Barack Obama, sought to punish Russian human rights violators and offered a guiding principle against politically motivated prosecutions.
But the state’s attorney general in Cyprus said there was no legal basis for Nicosia to refuse cooperating with Russia on the extradition request, citing the accusations are not related to politics.
Browder’s attorney, Jonathan Winer, filed on behalf of his client a motion in Cypriot courts to render the Russian warrant unenforceable citing political motivations.
Attorney General in Cyprus, Costas Clerides argued that the motion was baseless, unlawful, and illegal while suggesting that its purpose was to delay proceedings, according to reports.
“There is no good reason” said Clerides, arguing the motion had neither merit nor proof.
But a Nicosia judge said Browder’s team will have a chance to make their case on July 18.
This means that the burden of proof will rest with Browder’s lawyer, who will have to “prove to the court that the criminal prosecution from Russia is politically motivated rather than based on real charges.”