By Stelios Orphanides
Nicosia District Court judge Ioannis Ioannides gave the defence time until November 6 to consider whether they will file a complementary objection to the application for an emergency injunction filed by Hermitage Capital founder William Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov.
Ioannides was commenting on Wednesday at the court hearing, days after he ordered on Thursday, September 28, that the application should be served to Attorney General Costas Clerides, acting on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus. Clerides was represented by lawyer Andreas Christophorou from the Republic’s Law Office.
With the application, Browder and Cherkasov want the Republic of Cyprus to stop cooperating with Russia in a probe against the Georgiades and Pelides law firm, to which the police sent on August 23 a questionnaire requesting information about transactions carried out by Cypriot subsidiaries of Hermitage.
Hermitage Capital was at the heart of the Magnitsky case, named after the Russian lawyer who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing a $230m (€196m) tax fraud involving three Russian subsidiaries of Hermitage which were illegally obtained by a group of Russian police officers.
The latter had Sergey Magnitsky arrested. The case has blemished Russia’s reputation to such a degree that Interpol repeatedly denied Russian requests in relation to Browder. The Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly asked member states three years ago to deny cooperation with Russia in this area and to follow the example of the US which in 2012 adopted targeted actions against individuals implicated in Magnitsky’s death.
Christos Pourgourides, the lawyer representing Browder’s side, said that if the Republic of Cyprus decides to file a complementary objection, then the plaintiffs may respond with a supplementary affidavit responding to the allegations.
Pourgourides, who was commenting in an interview right after the hearing, said that he also reserves his right to request a new ex parte order banning Cypriot authorities from attempting to continue the investigation in the case, even as the current application remains pending.
He also said that Browder and Cherkasov filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Cyprus requesting compensation for damages for an alleged violation of their constitutional rights.
In case the defence decides not to challenge the application of the plaintiffs, the court will issue the order, according to the lawyer of the defendants.
“If the Ministry of Justice confirms that the motivation behind the prosecution (of the plaintiffs) is political, then it is very likely that there will be on objection,” said Christophorou.