Russian Federation's bid to extradite London-based murder suspect fails

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A bid by the Russian Federation to extradite the former son-in-law of an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin has failed.

London-based Georgy Shuppe is accused of murder and fraud in his native country.

The 46-year-old, of south-west London, was a former business partner and close confidant of the late Boris Berezovsky, and had been married to his daughter.

Mr Berezovsky, who was found dead at his home in Ascot, Berkshire, in 2013 aged 67, was a vocal critic of the Russian president.

The Russian Federation has alleged Mr Shuppe organised the assassination of businessman Alexander Mineev, who was shot 22 times with a Kalashnikov rifle in broad daylight in January 2014 in Korolev city.

He is also accused of having fraudulently taken over assets belonging to Mr Mineev.

A lawyer for the Russian Federation argued during a week-long hearing last month that Mr Shuppe stood to benefit from the takeover of assets, and said Mr Mineev was killed one week before his legal case in Russia about the fraud was due to come to court.

But Mr Shuppe's lawyers had dismissed the charges as "bogus" claiming the case was politically motivated and that their client would be a "trophy extradition" of Mr Putin's regime.

At a short hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday District Judge Kenneth Grant told Mr Shuppe he should not be extradited.

He said: "In relation to this case I have rejected the Russian Federation's request for your extradition and accordingly I am discharging you."

Mr Shuppe thanked the judge and winked at family members in the public gallery.

He was released on conditional bail and Judge Grant said the Russian Federation has 14 days to appeal against the decision.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mr Shuppe said he felt "light" after the decision.

He said: "Absolutely, I am pleased."

He added: "I want to relax and go home to my family."

Mr Shuppe, who had his mother, son and friends supporting him in court, added that he was reluctant to say anything more before the appeal period has ended.

He said: "I cannot comment for two weeks, it could be dangerous for me, I don't know.

"I am feeling very light. I am pleased again and I want to go home."

The case against Mr Shuppe appeared to be based on "bold and sweeping assertions of criminality", Judge Grant said in his written ruling.

He added: "I can see no likelihood that the prosecuting authorities in this country would even consider proceeding with a prosecution on charges of fraud and murder simply on the basis of the account of an anonymous witness who, in turn, reports what he was told by a third party who may or may not have been present when the conversation between two other individuals, not including the defendant, took place."

He added that he was satisfied there would be "influence and pressure" on a judge to convict Mr Shuppe, if he was put on trial in Russia.