Russia sentences anti-Kremlin campaigner Browder to prison in absentia

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Published 29.12.2017 17:22 Modified 29.12.2017 17:32
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A Moscow court on Friday sentenced anti-Kremlin campaigner William Browder in absentia to nine years in a penal colony after convicting him of deliberate bankruptcy.

The U.S.-born British citizen has led a campaign in memory of his former employee Sergey Magnitsky, who went public with details of massive fraud by Russian state officials before dying in detention after spending 11 months in squalid prisons in 2009.

"Browder is found guilty and is sentenced to nine years in a general security penal colony," the Moscow judge said.

The court also ordered Browder, the head hedge fund manager at Hermitage Capital Management, and his Russian partner Ivan Cherkasov to pay a total of 4.2 billion rubles ($72 million, 60 million euros).

The Russian prosecutor general's office said on Friday that it will continue to ask Interpol for Browder, who is based in London, to be extradited.

"The prosecutor general's office did not stop and is not stopping to seek Browder's extradition to Russia," prosecutor Mikhail Reznichenko was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

Browder was also sentenced to nine years in jail in 2013 after having been tried along with the late Magnitsky, who was posthumously found guilty of tax evasion in a case that prompted international outrage.

At the time Interpol refused to include Browder on its international search list after deciding that the tax evasion case against him was "of a predominantly political nature".

In 2012, the U.S. passed the "Magnitsky Act" which imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in the lawyer's death. The act became a symbol of prison abuses in Russia and strained ties with Washington.

Shortly afterward, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning American citizens from adopting Russian children, in a move widely viewed as retaliation.

Browder led one of the biggest investment funds in Russia for 10 years before he left the country and was barred entry in 2006 as a threat to national security.

The United States earlier this month imposed sanctions on five more Russian officials under the Magnitsky Act, including the leader of Chechnya.

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