MOSCOW, August 7 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow district court issued a warrant "in absentia" for the arrest of Russian fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky for the sixth time, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the courtroom Tuesday.
Russia's repeated requests for the extradition of Berezovsky, who fled to the U.K. six years ago, have been refused by British authorities.
The latest arrest warrant follows charges that Berezovsky embezzled $13 million from SBS-Agro Bank, once a leading Russian bank, and used the money to buy real estate on the Mediterranean coast. In July a Moscow court ordered the seizure of a luxury home allegedly owned by Berezovsky in France.
Explaining the ruling, the court said that if left at large, Berezovsky could continue criminal activity, pressurize witnesses or conceal evidence.
The court said the tycoon fled to Britain in 2001 without intent to return. "He was placed on the federal and international wanted lists on July 20, and the court also took into account that the fugitive businessman has been charged with crimes envisaging prison sentences of over 10 years," the court statement said.
Judges also dismissed as ungrounded arguments made by court-appointed defense attorneys, who said procedural violations had been made during the hearings. Berezovsky has refused to send any of his own defense lawyers to his ongoing trial-in-absentia in Moscow, which he has branded a "farce."
Defense attorney Andrei Borovkov said: "Berezovsky was indicted in the absence of his lawyers." He said the ruling would be contested in the Moscow City Court within three days.
Another member of Berezovsky's court-appointed defense team, Semyon Aria, said he expected numerous new charges against the tycoon in the near future based on probes launched by the Prosecutor General's Office. However, he said he could not specify the charges. "The investigator is avoiding us, and we have not been able to get in touch with him for days," he said.
Eleven probes have so far been launched against Berezovksy - who now goes by the name Platon Elenin in the U.K. - and requests for his extradition have been repeatedly sent to London, where he has been granted political asylum and citizenship.
The first warrant "in absentia" for Berezovsky's arrest was issued in 1999 as part of the Aeroflot case. Prosecutors charged the billionaire with embezzling over 214 million rubles ($8.3 million) from the national air carrier and laundering more than 16 million rubles ($620,000). The charges envision up to 10 years in jail.
The outspoken ex-oligarch, once a media magnate with interests in aviation and car manufacture announced plans in April to overthrow President Vladimir Putin by force. Berezovsky faces charges of plotting a coup in Russia, under which he theoretically faces up to 20 years in prison.