The Supreme Court in the Republic of Cyprus has refused to extradite a Russian woman citing her health condition, saying Moscow failed to convince local authorities that the individual would not face mistreatment if she would be extradited.
A Russian female citizen, who is wanted by Russian authorities on embezzlement charges and abuse of power allegations, managed to beat an extradition request back to her country after Cyprus’ Supreme Court ruled against Moscow’s appeal.
According to local media, a 56-year-old woman was arrested in Cyprus back in 2018 on a Russia-issued Interpol warrant, during inspection at Nicosia’s Agios Dhometios checkpoint as she was trying to cross from north to south.
Reports said the woman, who held a federal position with the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, was found guilty in absentia by a Russian court on embezzlement charges, to the tune of $50,000 (€40K).
A Cypriot district judge asked Russian prosecutors to provide evidence confirming the woman’s guilt, while additional concerns over her health became a focus of her extradition hearing
The woman has denied the accusations according to media reports.
A district judge reportedly had asked Russian prosecutors to provide copies of documents to Cypriot authorities confirming the woman’s guilt, according to media sources, while additional concerns of the woman’s health became the focus of her hearing with the extradition being denied.
Local media said the woman was suffering from Gravis, a weakness and rapid fatigue caused by a breakdown in communication between nerves and muscles.
“Detention for more than a few days in a cell with dimensions less than 3 square metres may constitute mistreatment,” the Supreme Court said, referring to an anticipated length of time when a Russian court would be expected to examine her claims.
The SC decision also said “conditions in Russia warranted a reasonable suspicion that a person suffering from a serious illness but receives no proper treatment or is unable to access such treatment, might be exposed to real danger or have a condition rapidly deteriorate or become non-reversible including intense suffering and significant shortening of life expectancy.”
Doctor said no medical basis to deny extradition
A neurology doctor in Nicosia who examined the woman had testified in a district court hearing that detention alone was not a factor that could cause health deterioration.
“As for the risks associated with a potential detention of the wanted woman, [the doctor] was not willing to accept that detention alone could cause deterioration of health,” a Supreme Court judge remarked.
“But the doctor clarified, and I accept, that maintaining the woman’s health would be dependent upon the conditions of her detention and the response or lack thereof from her guards,” the Judge added.
Supreme court unconvinced over Russian assurances
The Supreme Court judge also said Russian authorities failed to provide adequate clarification over possible detention conditions, saying explanations were ultimately deemed “general and non-specific.”
It was understood that the woman was examined by a Medical Council in Nicosia, in December 2018, with Russian authorities again seeking to provide further assurances in August 2019 that the woman would not be in detention if she was found to suffer from Gravis.
Russian prosecutors cry foul
But the motion was denied, with Russian authorities further complaining they had no real opportunity to address Cypriot concerns.
A lower court record did not show that further evidence was ever denied without basis, the SC judge found, adding that the district judge was even wrong to allow witness accounts from experts whose testimony was neither impartial nor objective.