The Swiss Federal Criminal Court ruled Wednesday in favor of an anonymous defendant, barring Russia from receiving legal assistance from the Swiss government. Russia has charged the anonymous Swiss defendant with money laundering and weapons smuggling, using Switzerland to smuggle weapon parts to Israel. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Siberian city of Omsk began criminal proceedings against the anonymous defendant in August 2019. Russia then filed a request with the Swiss government for legal assistance in prosecuting the anonymous defendant on September 15, 2020.
The court ruled that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine barred Russia from receiving any international legal assistance, due to its alleged flouting of international law. The court specifically referenced Russia’s violation of the United Nations Charter, Article 2(4), which prevents states from the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
The decision also references the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994, which states, “[t]he Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.” The court also cited Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe, and thereby, the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that Russia’s unwillingness to submit to European law bars them from enjoying the benefits of European law.
Russia will now have an opportunity to challenge the ruling in the Swiss Supreme Court.