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Prominent U.S. Lawyers Testify in Moscow Trial

Former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz and Notre Dame Law Professor G. Robert Blakey were among those taking the witness stand in a Moscow courtroom this week. All three testified as experts on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, better known as RICO, as Russia's Federal Customs Service seeks to make legal history by using the law in a Russian business court to recover billions from the Bank of New York Mellon. From Associated Press:

Hearings resume[d] Monday in the Russian Federal Customs Service's $22.5 billion lawsuit against the bank, which was at the center of a major money-laundering scandal in the late 1990s.

In a highly unusual move, Russia has brought the case under a famous U.S. law used to fight organized crime, and both sides have drawn on the expert opinion of some of America's best-known legal minds in preparing their case.

Blakey, who was the principal author of RICO, testified Wednesday that nothing in the law would prevent its use in the Russian lawsuit. "As a witness to the birth of RICO in the U.S. Congress, I can say that the law was in no way restricted for use only in the U.S.," he said, "and if the Russian court decides to apply civil RICO to this case, it would be absolutely correct in doing so." Dershowitz also testified in favor of applying the law, according to a news release. "To limit RICO to the U.S. courts would undercut the remedial and liberal will of Congress in enacting the statute," he said.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 1, 2008 at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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