NEWS

Tycoon Gusinsky jailed

Vladimir Gusinsky, a former media baron in his native Russia, was yesterday ordered to remain in jail until a panel of judges discusses an extradition request from Russia, where the former «oligarch» is accused of fraud. Appeals Court prosecutor Giorgos Vlassis ordered Gusinsky’s detention in Korydallos Prison until Russia sends its extradition request and the necessary documents, which must be done within 40 days. The Council of Appeals Court Judges will rule within 10 or 15 days on whether to uphold the extradition request. This decision can be appealed at the Supreme Court, which will then rule within a week. Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos may reject the extradition request even if the courts uphold it. Sources said the Foreign Ministry has come under pressure from some US senators and the US Jewish lobby to avert Gusinsky’s extradition. Gusinsky, 51, was arrested at Athens Airport on Thursday, after arriving from Tel Aviv. Associates said he was on his way to board his yacht for a cruise. Sources said Gusinsky’s lawyer, Antonis Vgontzas, will request his release on bail. Gusinsky is said to have told the prosecutor that he is wanted by Russia for political reasons as he clashed with President Vladimir Putin over Chechnya. Gusinsky, who is accused of fraud of $250 million, said he was forced to sign over his companies in exchange for his debts and that afterward he made a sworn deposition explaining his reasons. «He was arrested on the basis of an updated warrant from the Russian authorities and… a bilateral Greek-Russian agreement,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «The independent Greek judiciary will rule on this.» Gusinsky’s lawyer Vgontzas, told reporters, «We saw the new documents that show that he is accused of not repaying loans he had received. We all know that even if this charge is correct, this is not a crime according to Greek law. The prosecutor said he was unable to deal with the case, saying the Council of Appeals Court Judges was the competent authority.» Gusinsky successfully fought extradition when he was detained in Spain after fleeing Russia in 2000. This is expected to set a precedent for the current case. Although Greece and Russia have an agreement on judicial issues, the case will be treated according to a 1957 Council of Europe protocol and Greek law.