An Austrian court said Friday that it has ruled in favor of Ukrainian businessman Dymitro Firtash in a years-long legal saga over a U.S. bid to have him extradited to face corruption charges, sending the extradition case back to square one.
Firtash faces a U.S. indictment accusing him of a conspiracy to pay bribes in India to mine titanium, which is used in jet engines. He denies any wrongdoing.
He was arrested in Austria in 2014 and then freed on 125 million euros ($136 million) bail, kicking off a still-unresolved legal saga. A Vienna court initially ruled against extradition on the grounds that the indictment was politically motivated.
A higher court in February 2017 rejected that reasoning as “insufficiently substantiated” and ruled that Firtash could be extradited. Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice upheld that ruling in 2019.
The country’s justice minister at the time approved the extradition, but a Vienna court judge ruled it could only take place after a decision on a defense call to reopen the case. Firtash backed that June 2019 motion with “numerous documents, including written witness statements,” Vienna’s upper state court said.
In March 2022, a Vienna court ruled against reopening the case. But the upper state court said Friday that it has now ruled in favor of Firtash and decided to allow reopening extradition proceedings, overturning the 2017 ruling. It pointed to new evidence.
Judges in Vienna will now have to consider anew whether Firtash can be sent to the United States.
In June 2019, a Chicago federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss the indictment against Firtash, who has argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over crimes in India. However, the judge ruled that it does, because any scheme would have impacted a Chicago-based company.
American aviation company Boeing, based in Chicago, has said it considered business with Firtash but never followed through. It is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Maryland lawmakers are considering ending the state’s statute of limitations for when lawsuits can be filed against institutions related to child sexual abuse, though the state’s courts are likely to decide whether such a change in the law is constitutional if the General Assembly passes one.
Accusers who are now adults were scheduled to testify in favor of the legislation at a hearing Thursday.
Currently, people in Maryland who say they were sexually abused as children can’t sue after they reach the age of 38. The Maryland House has approved legislation in recent years that would have lifted that age limit, but it stalled in the state Senate.
This year, state Sen. Will Smith, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, is sponsoring a bill that would end the age limit. He said in an interview that he’s confident the bill will pass this year but that the judiciary likely will have the final say.
Fifteen states have lifted statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse, according to Child USAdvocacy, a nonprofit that advocates for better laws to protect children. Twenty-four have approved revival periods known as “lookback windows,” which are limited timeframes in which accusers can sue, regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.
In 2017, Maryland raised the age that accusers can file lawsuits from 25 to 38. But the law also included language, known as a statute of repose, that some say prevents lawmakers from extending the statute of limitations again.
The Supreme Court won’t revive a lawsuit against a firearms website over a suburban Milwaukee spa shooting.
The justices rejected an appeal Monday from the daughter of one of three people shot to death by a man who illegally bought a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition from someone he met through Armslist.com.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the suit, ruling that federal law protects website operators from liability for posting content from a third party. The state court rejected arguments that websites that enable gun deals must take reasonable care to prevent sales to people prohibited from purchasing firearms. The Wisconsin shooter was under a court order that prohibited him from possessing guns.
India's top court ordered Wednesday that five prominent rights activists arrested for alleged Maoist links be kept under house arrest instead of police custody until it rules next week on a petition challenging their detention.
Police, meanwhile, broke up a protest in southern India against the arrests and detained about two dozen people.
Attorney Prashant Bhushan said the court order will prevent police from taking the five to the western city of Pune, where authorities are investigating their alleged links to Maoist rebels in various parts of the country.
The Supreme Court also ordered the federal and state governments to provide detailed reasons for their arrests within three days. It set Sept. 6 for the next hearing in the case.
Those arrested on Tuesday were Telugu-language poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira in Mumbai, and Gautam Navalakha and Sudha Bhardwaj in New Delhi and a neighbouring town.
Police accused the five of delivering speeches that triggered protests and violence between low-caste Dalits and right-wing groups near Pune in December.
The government says Maoist rebels, who are active in several states, are India's biggest internal security threat. The rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for the poor and indigenous communities.