The Nicosia district court on Wednesday granted investor Bill Browder’s side the right to submit a supplementary affidavit to respond to the objections of the attorney-general’s office against his request for an order preventing Cyprus from cooperating with Russia in a probe against him.
The deadline for Browder’s side to submit the affidavit expires on June 4, Theano Mavroumoustaki, the government attorney in charge of the case said in a telephone interview.
The Hermitage Capital founder resorted to Cypriot justice in September aiming at stopping Cyprus from cooperating with Russia in an investigation that came in response to Browder’s campaign for justice for lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky died, aged 37, in a Russian prison nine years ago after exposing a $230m (€190m) tax theft. He was arrested, tortured and denied access to medical care by the same policemen he implicated in the case. He had accused them of raiding the premises of Hermitage Capital and illegally gaining the ownership of three of Hermitage Capital subsidiaries. They subsequently filed a false tax refund claim to collect the taxes Hermitage Capital had paid.
In 2014, the Council of Europe asked member states not to cooperate with Russia in its politically motivated investigation against Browder and asked them to follow the example of the US which six years ago passed the Magnitsky Act which provides for targeted measures against human rights offenders.
The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported on Wednesday that the judge accepted the request of Browder’s side after hearing the arguments of both litigants, in order to give Browder, represented by the Limassol-based lawyer Christos Pourgourides, the opportunity to present his position that the probe is politically motivated. The judge also gave the attorney-general’s side the chance to file a supplementary affidavit.
In October, Russia reacted angrily after the Cypriot authorities decided to temporarily freeze the cooperation in the investigation pending the outcome of Browder’s application.