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Wed 19 Jun 2019 07:24 PM

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Marsha Lazareva's legal team files complaint with UN

Cherie Blair files Kuwait impartiality complaint at the UN on behalf of KGL Investment CEO

Marsha Lazareva's legal team files complaint with UN
Marsha Lazareva, CEO of Kuwaiti-firm KGL Investment.

The legal team representing former prisoner Marsha Lazareva, CEO of Kuwaiti-firm KGL Investment (KGLI), on Wednesday filed a Request for Urgent Appeal with the United Nations raising concerns about the independence and impartiality of certain judges, prosecutors and lawyers in her case.

The Russian businesswoman was jailed for over 470 days and finally released on bail of KD12 million ($39.42 million) on June 13, following a high profile campaign. Arrested in November 2017, she was sentenced to ten years hard labour imprisonment in May 2018, after being found guilty of charges of embezzlement.

The appeal was filed with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers in advance of a crucial hearing for Lazareva on June 23 in Kuwait and in spite of the Kuwait Court of Appeal quashing her conviction.

The appeal requests that the UN Special Rapporteur immediately raise Lazareva’s concerns regarding the independence and impartiality of certain of the judges and prosecutors in her case.

Even though the complaints relate to certain individuals within the Kuwait legal system, the appeal requests that the Special Rapporteur engage the Government of Kuwait as the ultimately responsible authority.

The appeal was filed by an international legal team led by Cherie Blair CBE, QC, and follows a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), filed on May 23, requesting an investigation into the detention and treatment of Lazareva, who was imprisoned in Kuwait on evidence now proved to be forged, citing Kuwait’s violations of fair trial protections and of protections against arbitrary detention.

Lazareva’s case continues to draw international concern about the treatment of foreign investors in Kuwait. Prominent political figures in the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia have joined her defence team.

Blair said: “The rule of law, the proper administration of justice and due process depends on an independent and impartial judiciary, as well as the ability for defence counsel vigorously to defend their clients without improper interference or reprisals by the State. Sadly these principles have not been observed in Marsha’s case.”

In a further collapse of the case, Kuwait’s Commercial Court of Appeal issued its verdict on Sunday June 23 confirming the initial ruling of the Plenary Court, which ordered Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) to pay to KGLI Company an amount of KD725,000 ($2.38 million), plus interest.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that KPA had earlier agreed to pay the amount set in KGLI’s initial proposal and invoice – despite KPA later claiming it was unwilling to pay for unfufilled services from KGLI.

The court concluded that KPA were positive regarding the work done by KGLI.

But while Lazareva was finally released from a Kuwaiti prison after her conviction was quashed, her co-defendant, Saeed Dashti – whose conviction was also lifted – still remains in a Kuwait jail cell.

An Omnia Strategy spokesperson told Arabian Business: “The case against Marsha and Saeed continues to disintegrate and does not stand up to even cursory scrutiny. In the latest twist, the Commercial Division of Kuwait’s Court of Appeal found that the Kuwait Ports Authority owe KGL Investment Company more than KD700,000 for the very services which the State alleges were never performed in Case 1942/2012.

“It seems improbable that the State Prosecutor can seriously maintain the charges against Marsha and Saeed in light of this important judgment which comes so soon after the conviction of Hamad Al Allayan for forging the very documents which formed the basis of the original conviction in Case 1942/2015. The international legal team hopes that the charges will now be withdrawn.”

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