Russian court postpones trial of fugitive tycoon

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : A Moscow court has again postponed for two weeks the hearing in absentia of an $8-million fraud case against a Russian fugitive tycoon following a request from his state-appointed lawyer.

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"The court … granted my request to put off the hearings until July 26 because I need time to study the case," Alexander Dudkin said.

Dudkin previously said he needed about a month to study the file against London-based Boris Berezovsky who prosecutors accuse of stealing and laundering the money of Russia's flagship air carrier Aeroflot.

Dudkin was appointed by the government to defend Berezovsky in court after the billionaire, who denies the charges, ordered his lawyers to stay away from the trial. Berezovsky has not contacted his government lawyer.

Dudkin said it was the first trial in absentia in his experience. "I could have refused the offer, but I decided it was necessary and interesting to agree," he said.

Berezovsky, granted political asylum in Britain, could face up to ten years in prison under Russian law if found guilty.

Russian authorities have repeatedly demanded the businessman's extradition but the British authorities have turned down the requests.

Apart from the Aeroflot case, Berezovsky is facing coup attempt charges in Russia after he openly said he planned to finance an effort in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. If found guilty, he could be jailed for 12-20 years.