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Speaking same language Gazprom trial gets underway after delay

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court will hear the case in German


The corruption trial of four people linked to Russian energy giant Gazprom gets underway in Switzerland on Monday after a four-month wait to sort out a translation dispute.

Three Russians and a Frenchman stand accused in the Federal Criminal Court of pocketing CHF7 million ($7.2 million) through fraudulent consultancy contracts. They are accused of forgery, money laundering and bribery.

Swiss prosecutors allege that two defendants funneled bribes from the construction of a gas pipeline from the Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery (SIT) company to Gazprom executives. The pipeline was being built between the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia and Germany. The other two former Gazprom employees are accused of accepting those bribes.

The trial in Bellinzona, canton Ticino, was postponed from November after a dispute over the language to be used in court. Three of the four lawyers from Geneva spoke in French, but the language typically used for court debates is German. 

The four-month delay allowed the defendants to find German-speaking lawyers despite protests that French should be a valid language in the court.

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