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29 Nov, 2007 20:04

Berezovsky given six years for corruption

Russia's runaway oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been sentenced to six years in absentia for embezzling $US 9 million from Russia's largest airline Aeroflot.

Moscow's Savyolovsky Court handed down the judgment in Berezovsky's absence, after he refused to return from London for the trial.

His involvement in the Aeroflot case had to do with managing the company's currency income via several Swiss companies.

The self-exiled businessman denied all charges and refused to co-operate with the court.

Berezovsky's lawyer, Aleksandr Dudkin says he will file an appeal.

“I think this case lacks evidence showing Berezovsky has spent a single rouble from the Aeroflot funds,” he said.

Two other people involved in the case earlier received suspended sentences of two years each by the same court.

Berezovsky now lives in Britain, where he has political asylum. Moscow has unsuccessfully applied for his extradition in order to try him in Russia.

The state Prosecutor does not rule out that Russia could again request Britain to extradite the tycoon.

Prosecutor Aleksandr Kublyakov said the decision was made according to their expectations.

“I suppose, we won't appeal against the sentence. According to legislation, the repeated proceeding would have to take place if he was extradited to Russia or if he came here on his own accord. In that case, the sentence would be cancelled according to his petition and the case would be reviewed in his presence,” Kublyakov noted.

State Duma Deputy Vladimir Semago told RT that he believes there is a reason for another extradition request.

“People, who know the situation, are positively sure that he is guilty,” Semago said.

Eleven charges have been filed against Berezovsky so far. The ruling will add to six arrest warrants already handed out against him.

He is also wanted in Brazil for embezzlement and money laundering.