MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. A court council in the Greek city of Thessaloniki has extended the custody of Russian national Alexander Vinnik, who has been jailed in Greece since the summer of 2017, for six months, Vinnik’s lawyer Timofei Musatov told TASS on Thursday.
"His custody was to end on July 25. In exceptional cases, a council of judges gathers that can extend the period of custody for another six months," he said, adding that the judges had claimed to make the decision in accordance with the Greek Justice Ministry’s position.
Musatov also said that Vinnik’s defense planned to file an appeal. At the same time, he said that rules of procedure had been violated during preparations for the meeting as Vinnik had received a notice in the Greek language while it should have been in his mother tongue, and his lawyers had been absent from the meeting.
"It is a rare case, because custody seldom exceeds two years in Greece. Besides, courts were closed today due to the election period and there were no hearings in other Thessaloniki courts," Musatov added.
Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25 at the US request, where he is accused of laundering four to nine bln dollars through the now non-existent BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office twice requested that Vinnik be extradited to Russia as Russian investigators believe that from January 1, 2016, to June 14, 2018 he was involved in extortion and money laundering in France as part of a criminal group. However, Vinnik has never been to France and has remained in custody in Greece since the summer of 2017.
In October 2017, the Thessaloniki court ruled to extradite the Russian to the United States but his defense attorney filed an appeal against this decision. Later, the same court granted France’s request for Vinnik’s extradition.
On November 26, 2018, Vinnik went on hunger strike against judicial outrage. He claims to be a political prisoner and demands that the Greek authorities let him return to his home country. He stopped his hunger strike after three months and was hospitalized. While in hospital, he remains under police guard.