Nevzlin Beats Extradition

Insufficient evidence for murder charges, says Israeli court.

Amit Benaroia
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Amit Benaroia

Billionaire businessman Leonid Nevzlin will not be extradited to Russia and will not lose his Israeli citizenship, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

Nevzlin, whom Forbes magazine estimated to be worth $1.8 billion in 2003, immigrated to Israel that year. In 2005, Moscow requested his extradition based on suspicions of murder, attempted murder through hired parties, and white-collar crimes committed during his stint at the Yukos oil company.

Israel rejected the extradition request, arguing that the evidence Russia had presented to support its claims against Nevzlin was insufficient. The next stage was an appeal against the state's decision by two members of the general public, who felt wronged by the ruling and sought to reverse it.

They also petitioned the interior minister to void Nevzlin's Israeli citizenship, on the grounds that it allegedly had been obtained based on false pretentions, including Nevzlin's declaration that he had not committed any crimes, and was not wanted by law officials in any country.

Nevzlin, represented by attorney David Libai, argued that the charges against him stemmed from political persecution by Moscow.

Justice Edmond Levy, seconded by Miriam Naor and Esther Hayut, ruled that the state's decision had not been flawed. There was no evidence directly connecting Nevzlin to murder, Levy wrote. He also rejected the motion to cancel Nevzlin's Israeli citizenship.

The interior minister and attorney general were ordered to bear Nevzlin's court costs, amounting to NIS 15,000 each.

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