Swiss authorities will extradite Russia's former nuclear minister, Yevgeny Adamov, to his homeland rather than to the United States, according to a court ruling made public Thursday. Switzerland's top court overturned a previous ruling by the Justice Ministry, which had said Adamov must first face U.S. courts, where he has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.
The Lausanne-based supreme court said Adamov should be tried in Russia, as he is a Russian national and the crimes he is accused of were committed in that country rather than in the United States. Adamov was arrested May 2 on a U.S. warrant while he was visiting his daughter in the Swiss capital, Bern. U.S. justice officials have accused him of diverting up to US$9 million (Ђ7.2 million) from funds intended to improve Russian nuclear security into private projects in the U.S., Ukraine and Russia.
"With the extradition to Russia, it can be guaranteed that the crimes under investigation will be examined for overall judgment in the country primarily affected," the court said in a statement. In its ruling dated Dec. 22, the Lausanne court said that, on its own, the U.S. extradition request was not valid under Swiss law because the alleged crimes would have been committed by a foreign functionary in a foreign fiscal system.
The court said extradition for prosecution in the United States would only be permitted under Swiss criminal law if it were in tandem with a Russian case, and even then any Russian prosecution would still take priority. Switzerland's Justice Ministry had ruled earlier this year that Adamov must first face charges in U.S. courts, but Adamov, who has already accepted extradition to Russia, appealed that decision to the Swiss supreme court.
Adamov, a nuclear physicist, was appointed atomic energy minister in 1998 but came under increasing criticism in connection with corruption allegations against him and his proposal to import nuclear waste to Russia for reprocessing.
In 2001, the anti-corruption committee of Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, accused Adamov of illegally setting up companies inside and outside Russia, including a consulting firm called Omeka registered in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Adamov was dismissed from his post in March 2001 as part of a Cabinet reshuffle engineered by President Vladimir Putin, reports the AP. N.U.