MOSCOW, January 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Lawyers for Vladislav Baumgertner, a former chief executive of one of the world’s largest potash producers, Uralkali, asked a Moscow court on Thursday to release their client on 15 million- ruble (some $450,000) bail as investigators insisted on extending his house arrest term.
Baumgertner, charged with abuse of office, was detained in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, last August and extradited to Russia the following month. He was initially held in a pre-trial detention ward but Basmanny court later ruled to place him under house arrest.
Asking the court to grant liberty, lawyer Mikhail Shashkov said the surety could be made even higher. "We propose the court to consider Baumgertner’s possible release on bail and leave it up to the court to decide on the bail sum,” he said.
But investigators sought to extend Baumgertner’s house arrest until April 14, citing a need for further inquiries and the suspect’s possible obstruction of the investigation.
“A number of investigative measures remain to be carried out,” an investigator said, adding that if released, Baumgertner might pressure witnesses in the case.
“Moreover, he has property abroad and accounts in foreign banks. We say it is possible that Baumgertner will try to flee,” the investigator said.
Baumgertner, protesting innocence, objected to the investigator’s request, asking the court to release him and pledging to maintain full co-operation with inquiries.
The investigator also told the court that Baumgertner was allowed three-hour daily walks but that they should be strictly routed for investigators to be constantly informed of his whereabouts.
Last month, Basmanny court ruled that Baumgertner, who wears an electronic tracking bracelet while under house arrest, must not be allowed walks outside the house or to receive guests other than relatives, lawyers or investigators.
Though Baumgertner was detained and subjected to the investigation since last summer, he remained Uralkali chief executive until December 23, when the company’s board of directors replaced him with Dmitry Osipov, a former deputy chairman of fertilizer producer Uralchem. Baumgertner, however, retains his seat on the Uralkali board.