Hearings in Russian oligarch Sergei Polonsky’s year-old assault case will resume at the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court next month, even as the Court of Appeal prepares to make a formal decision about whether to extradite him to Moscow to face multimillion-dollar embezzlement charges there, a court official said Tuesday.
In January, the Sihanoukville court charged Mr. Polonsky with assault following a dispute with Cambodian boatmen off the coast of Sihanoukville in December. The ex-billionaire spent three months in the provincial prison with two fellow Russians and was released on bail on April 3, although the indictment was not dropped.
But in July, a Moscow court charged Mr. Polonsky with embezzling roughly $176 million from investors in an unfinished residential development, and at the request of Russian authorities, he was arrested in Cambodia again on November 11 and sent to Phnom Penh’s PJ Prison to await extradition to his native country.
On Tuesday, Mong Monychakrya, director of the Sihanoukville court, said that despite Mr. Polonsky’s impending extradition, which senior Cambodian officials have promised will take place as soon as possible, hearings in his original assault case would continue before the end of next month.
“We will resume the hearings in this case by the end of the year…. Polonsky is still on bail,” Mr. Monychakrya said.
But You Bunleng, director of the Court of Appeal—which is responsible for ruling on the extradition of foreign nationals—said the judicial body would formally decide whether to extradite Mr. Polonsky “soon,” declining to provide a specific date.
“This kind of case doesn’t take long. The hearing will be soon,” Mr. Bunleng said.
Ros Sitha, Mr. Polonsky’s lawyer, said he was pushing the Sihanoukville court to resume proceedings in the assault case, so that his client might avoid extradition to Moscow.
“We want Polonsky’s Cambodian case to be concluded,” Mr. Sitha said.
“Polonsky does not want to go back to Russia,” he added.