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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gusinsky in Madrid Court For Extradition Hearing

MADRID, Spain - Media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky appeared Thursday before a three-judge panel in Madrid for a hearing to decide whether he should be extradited to Russia on fraud charges.

The hearing, at the National Court, began at 3.30 p.m. and was expected to last for several hours. It was not known when the judges will announce their decision.

Gusinsky who was arrested in Spain Dec. 12, was taken to court from Soto el Real prison on the Spanish capital's outskirts earlier Thursday. He had been moved there from house arrest in southern Spain earlier in the week.

Attending the hearing, which is open to the public, was his 35-year-old wife Elena.

"I hope there will be justice from the Spanish court," she told The Associated Press before the hearing started. "There is no criminal evidence to justify this extradition request, believe me, I'm a lawyer. These past months have been a nightmare."

Gusinsky is wanted in Russia in connection with an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud case involving his Media-Most empire. He claims he is a victim of a politically-motivated prosecution because of Media-Most's criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Although initially jailed, Gusinsky was released and placed under house arrest at his villa in southern Spain Dec. 22 on a bail of $5.5 million bail.

His Spanish lawyers said they were confident the judges would at least order their defendant free on bail Thursday.

Russian prosecutors say Gusinsky overstated the assets of Media-Most to win $300 million in loan guarantees in 1996 from the state-owned natural gas monopoly Gazprom.