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Firtash extradition request denied

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22:10 CEST+02:00
NEWSFLASH: Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash's planned extradition to the USA has been rejected by an Austrian court Thursday.

An Austrian court on Thursday rejected a request to extradite to the United States Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash on bribery charges, according to a report from Agence-France Press.

Firtash, 49, one of Ukraine's richest men and previously a close ally of ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych, was arrested in Austria in March 2014.

The US issued a warrant for him last year on charges of corruption linked to titanium mining in India.  Firtash had been indicted on bribery and corruption charges in the United States, with his bail set at a whopping €125 million.

He claims to be a “victim” of the power struggle in Ukraine between the US and Russia - insisting his arrest is illegal and that the US has fallen for disinformation about him supplied by his enemies in Ukraine.

He only planned to be in Vienna for two days and was due to fly to his home in London. Unluckily for him, Austria has an extradition agreement with the US. According to his bail conditions, he must remain in Austria.

He has consistently argued that he has been the victim of a political smear campaign.

"I have already expressed many times my confidence in the Austrian justice system. Today this confidence has proven to be justified," he said in a statement on Thursday issued by his lawyers.

Judge Christoph Bauer said Mr Firtash should remain on bail and stay in Austria until his order is legally binding.

Correspondents say that the legal manoeuvrings in his case are likely to continue for some time, because prosecutors have filed an appeal against the ruling.

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