A Cyprus court ruled on Wednesday, October 11, to extradite billionaire Beny Steinmetz to Romania, where he has been sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring with the grandson of the former king and others to obtain former royal lands worth over US$100 million corruptly, OCCRP reports.
Steinmetz’s representatives, however, said they would appeal the decision to the country’s Supreme Court. Judge Michalis Michael said Steinmetz would be detained until his extradition or the filing of an appeal, as there was a risk of his fleeing justice.
Cypriot police arrested Steinmetz, 67, at Larnaca airport on August 31, based on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Romania after his conviction for forming “an organized criminal group” Romania’s supreme court found him guilty in December 2020.
As reported by the OCCRP, Steinmez’s legal team argued that his right to a fair trial in Romania had been violated due to the alleged illegal use of wiretap material and that one of the supreme court justices had never taken her oath of office. Steinmetz’s lawyers also accused the Romanian judges of anti-Semitism and argued that extradition would breach his human rights due to inhumane prison conditions in Romania. The businessman has denied the allegations of criminality in Romania.
The Cypriot ruling comes as Steinmetz awaits the decision of Switzerland’s supreme court in a separate corruption case over some of the world’s most important mining rights.