Berezovsky to be tried in absentia

June 27, 2007 at 7:29 PM

MOSCOW, June 27 (UPI) -- Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky will be tried in absentia in a Moscow court on charges of embezzling Aeroflot airline funds.

Berezovsky is accused of embezzling more than $8.3 million of the flagship airline's funds and laundering more than $620,000, Novosti reported Wednesday.

"As the accused is on the wanted list, the case against him will be considered in absentia," Moscow City Court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova said, adding that the hearings next month would be preliminary.

Berezovsky was charged in the 1990s with establishing companies in Switzerland to divert millions of dollars from the carrier. The Aeroflot case was suspended after he fled to Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2003.

The case was revived after Berezovsky told a British newspaper he had underwritten Kremlin insiders conspiring to overthrow President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's requests for extradition so far have been refused.

Berezovsky's lawyer said Wednesday the businessman had forbidden his defense team to participate in the Moscow hearings.

"Berezovsky said he did not want to be part of that farce, which means neither he, nor his lawyers will attend the trial," Andrei Borovkov said, adding that the state could appoint lawyers to act for Berezovsky.

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