Verdict expected early next week over charge against Alexander Lebedev

 

Moscow

The judge presiding over the trial of Alexander Lebedev, Russian businessman and financial backer of The Independent, expects to reach a verdict early next week. Mr Lebedev is accused of "hooliganism motivated by political hatred", over throwing a pair of punches at fellow tycoon Sergei Polonsky during a 2011 television programme. He could go to jail for up to five years if Judge Andrei Bakhvalov finds him guilty.

Although it is clear from the video evidence that Mr Lebedev did strike Mr Polonsky, the prosecution's attempts to prove the charges of "political hatred", which are the key to the long potential sentence, have often descended into farce. Mr Lebedev has said that the case is politically motivated due to his backing for opposition causes and the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and has called the charges "fabricated".

Today Mr Lebedev's defence team read a number of character references to the court from Russian personalities, notably a group of actors from the Chekhov Theatre in Yalta, where Mr Lebedev has supported renovation efforts. He has also amassed a number of character references from Western celebrities, including John Malkovich, Keira Knightley and Bono. The letter from the Irish musician, published on Mr Lebedev's blog yesterday, says that Mr Lebedev is a man of "deceny and integrity" and is a "serious philanthropist". The prosecution, however, has said it believes the character references are inadmissible as evidence as they have not been verified by a notary.

The judge has ruled that the case can be completed without an appearance from Mr Polonsky himself. Despite being the key witness in the case, his lawyers say he cannot attend as he is not allowed to leave Cambodia, where he was released on bail after allegedly assaulting local sailors. However, television footage suggests Mr Polonsky has actually skipped bail and fled to Israel in recent weeks. A criminal case over a £120m embezzlement has also been opened against him in Russia, meaning he could be arrested if he did try to return to testify in court.

On Thursday, Mr Lebedev himself will be cross-examined, and then the lawyers will give their final arguments on Friday. The judge has said he wants to issue a verdict early next week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?