Ex­iled sci­en­tist wins fight to stay in Bri­tain

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

An ex­iled Rus­sian sci­en­tist has won a court bat­tle to re­main in Scot­land af­ter he claimed he would be mur­dered if he is re­turned to his home­land.

Alexan­der Shapo­valov, 57, fled to the High­lands in 2015 af­ter be­ing con­victed of fraud in Rus­sia.

He was fined £13,000 and also sen­tenced to 10 years in jail in his ab­sence.

Mr Shapo­valov now lives in Lochaber with his part­ner and two chil­dren.

The for­mer di­rec­tor­gen­eral with the Sci­en­tific Cen­tre of Ap­plied Chem­istry in St Peters­burg, which has links with the mil­i­tary, fought an at­tempt by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment to ex­tra­dite him.

He sought po­lit­i­cal asy­lum as he be­lieves pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin wants him dead.

Fol­low­ing a hear­ing at Ed­in­burgh Sher­iff Court, Sher­iff Nigel Ross has re­fused to grant the ex­tra­di­tion re­quest to re­turn Mr Shapo­valov to serve his jail term and face fur­ther fraud charges.

The sher­iff said ex­tra­dit­ing him would be in breach of his hu­man rights and found that Rus­sia had abused the court process as the fraud charges were un­founded.

In a scathing judg­ment, Sher­iff Ross said Dr Shapo­valov would face an un­fair pros­e­cu­tion, pos­si­ble tor­ture and in­hu­man con­di­tions in the Rus­sian prison sys­tem.

He said: “I ac­cept the ev­i­dence led on be­half of Dr Shapo­valov as cred­i­ble and re­li­able.

“The ev­i­dence for the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion was poor qual­ity, in­ad­e­quate and mis­di­rected, and I re­ject it as any re­li­able source of in­for­ma­tion. The ev­i­dence is clear and un­con­tra­dicted that Dr Shapo­valov will not re­ceive a fair trial on the ac­cu­sa­tion mat­ter, and did not re­ceive a fair trial on the con­vic­tion mat­ter.”

Rus­sia ap­plied for ex­tra­di­tion and the Crown Of­fice was obliged to start civil ac­tion un­der pro­ceeds of crime leg­is­la­tion.

Sher­iff Ross crit­i­cised the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment for re­fus­ing to co-op­er­ate with the case in the wake of the Salisbury poi­son­ing in­ci­dent.

The court was told that Dr Shapo­valov took up his for­mer po­si­tion in 2009 but found the in­sti­tute, which em­ploys 25,000 en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists, to be in “very bad shape”.

He told the court that he found out that an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor was us­ing the cen­tre’s money to buy prop­er­ties, adding: “When I found this out, I said ‘this is un­ac­cept­able’.

“He de­cided to bank­rupt our in­sti­tu­tion and I started crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings,” he said.

Dr Shapo­valov claimed that he was threat­ened by fig­ures with links to pres­i­dent Putin.

He was ar­rested and held at a po­lice sta­tion for 36 hours and was told that he would be charged with a se­ri­ous of­fence.

Asked what would hap­pen if he was re­turned to Rus­sia, Dr Shapo­valov replied: “I would be killed.” Driv­ers are be­ing warned of more road clo­sures this week­end for the Aberdeen by­pass pro­ject.

Con­trac­tors for the £ 750 mil­lion AWPR pro­ject will close the A90 south­bound merge at Charleston from around 8pm tonight to 6am on Monday for util­ity and ca­bling works.

Driv­ers will be di­verted via the A956 Charleston Bridge on to the A90 north­bound to the Bridge of Dee. From there, they can join the A90 south­bound.

Di­ver­sions will be sign­posted.

A Transport Scot­land spokesman said: “Sub­ject to weather con­di­tions, it will be nec­es­sary for the con­trac­tor to close the A90 south­bound merge to en­able essential util­ity and ca­bling works to be un­der­taken.

“Any­one planning to use the A90 south­bound merge at Charleston should build in the pos­si­bil­ity of a short de­lay to their jour­ney so that they can reach their des­ti­na­tion on time.

“We would like to en­cour­age all road users to ob­serve all road sig­nage to en­hance their safety, as well as the safety of oth­ers.

“We would also like to thank road users for their con­tin­ued pa­tience and sup­port dur­ing the con­struc­tion.”

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