Russian Lazareva's Defense Calls For Full Exoneration After Release From Kuwait Prison


Russian Lazareva's Defense Calls for Full Exoneration After Release From Kuwait Prison

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 14th June, 2019) The legal defense of Russian national Maria Lazareva, sentenced in Kuwait for 10 years in prison on embezzlement charges, insists on full exoneration of her and colleague Saeed Dashti, US lawyer David Hammond told Sputnik.

On Wednesday, Lazareva was released on a bail of 1 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($3.29 million). She and other defendants are awaiting a final decision of Kuwaiti appeal court which is scheduled on June 23.

"We will not settle for anything less than the full exoneration of these innocent individuals," Hammond, a partner at Washington-based law firm Crowell & Moring, said on Monday. "If the court judges the case solely on the facts and the law, we expect Maria and Saeed to be found innocent on all charges, Saeed to be released from prison, the travel bans to be lifted, and the bail money returned."

Lazareva, along with other suspects, was arrested in 2017 on charges of stealing funds that the Kuwait Port Authority placed in an investment fund managed by KGL Investment (KGLI) company, where Lazareva served as vice-president and managing director.

Meanwhile, the defense stressed that KGLI was providing consultancy services to the Kuwait Port Authority in exchange for payments stipulated in a written agreement. Lazareva was released on bail of $30 million in February 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2018. Her international defense team promptly appealed the decision.

The Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry has repeatedly cited violations that the Kuwaiti court has committed in Lazareva case, namely, by banning her defense from questioning witnesses and by distorting the defense's testimony in protocols of the hearings.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following his visit to Kuwait in March that he had discussed the situation around Lazareva with local authorities and had asked his Kuwaiti counterpart to secure her rights.