Giovanni Di Stefano (A Lawyer or Not a Lawyer) Defended Hussein

Chichvarkin to stay in UK until Russia joins Europol

5 August 2010, 13:28   Download audio file  

John Robles interview with the international lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano on the Yevgeny Chichvarkin extradition.

John Robles: “Voice of Russia” world service. This is John Robles. I’m speaking with the international lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano on the Yevgeny Chichvarkin extradition. Chichvarkin was the former owner of “Yevroset”. The hearing, in which a London court was due to decide whether to send Chichvarkin back to Moscow on kidnapping charges, was postponed until September.

Giovanni Di Stefano: The problems with Yevgeny started in 2005, when he was accused in Russia of unlawfully and illegally importing mobile phones priced at more than 500 million dollars.  This case was closed a year later. But it’s followed him and shadowed him all the time. It would appear in Russia, according to the defense, that those who have successful businesses, unless they are prepared to tow the government line, may have a number of problems and may be the subject of criminal charges, and this is where the problem lies.

John Robles: So, you’re saying that he did nothing criminal; he just didn’t tow the government line. That’s not fair.

Giovanni Di Stefano: Well, that is the defense point of view. I mean the defense line of the prosecution in Russia. And we’ve seen a number of prosecutions in Russia. One of the biggest problems that Russia faces is that Russia is not a part of Europol. In other words, they cannot issue a European arrest warrant. If they were within the European Union, within a week Yevgeny would be on his way to Moscow.  That is the difference between a European arrest warrant and an International arrest warrant.

John Robles: You’re saying the only reason he has not been extradited is because Russia is not a member of Europol? 

Giovanni Di Stefano: Russia is not a member of the European Union, it is a member of the Council of Europe, and therefore it cannot issue a European arrest warrant.  A European arrest warrant is a fast-track procedure which allows any European Union country to insure issue a warrant and after that the person is sent back to the requesting country.

John Robles: Can I ask you a question regarding previous cases? For example, Berezovsky.

Giovanni Di Stefano: I know all the cases in Russia. I have a lot of sympathy for the Russian government. However until such time as Russia can be in the European Union or a member of Europol its criminal justice system will always face problems. Every single country, and the United Kingdom is of course the major one, will always say: “Here we have a country that issues an arrest warrant to a business man who does not tow the company line or the government line” , that’s the reason and the excuse why he should not be extradited. You cannot say “these are political offences and therefore don’t extradite me”, as you could in the old days. For example, there was a case, the Red Brigades which I defended, when people were accused of murdering a number of people  during bombings in Italy, and the British courts said “No, these are political offences”, because there are 80 or 90 murders.  So, it appears that if you kill 80 or 90 people in the name of politics, it’ ok, you can’t be extradited, but if you come home and kill your wife that is extraditable.

John Robles: Is something wrong with the British system? It seems like it’s protecting a lot of people who shouldn’t be protected.

Giovanni Di Stefano: The UK is in the European Union and they have to abide by it. They have a treaty, they have an extradition agreement with each different country. This is so easily remedied that it’s unbelievable.  All Russia has to do is to seek admission to the European arrest warrant system, and comply of course with the criminal justice system of the European Union.

John Robles: What do you think are the chances that Mr. Chichvarkin will, in fact be, extradited?

Giovanni Di Stefano: Zero.

John Robles: Why?

Giovanni Di Stefano: Because of the reasons that I’ve mentioned. They will say it is a political offence but it’s easily remedied by Russia applying to join Europol and hence the European arrest warrant system.

 

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