Russia calls for fair investigation of tycoon held in Cambodia

MOSCOW Wed Jan 9, 2013 11:19am EST

Sergei Polonsky, co-owner of Russian developer Mirax, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Moscow, April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Sergei Polonsky, co-owner of Russian developer Mirax, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Moscow, April 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow on Wednesday called for a fair and thorough investigation in the case of a real estate tycoon and two other Russians held in Cambodia on suspicion of assault.

Sergei Polonsky and his two compatriots were detained on New Year's Day after an incident in which Cambodian military police say they forced some crew to jump off a boat at knifepoint and one boatman was punched.

Polonsky, 40, a property developer who was worth an estimated $1.2 billion before the global financial crisis, and the other Russians are accused of assault and illegal detention.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said they faced up to three years in prison if convicted.

"In view of the seriousness of the accusations, we consider it necessary that a thorough and objective investigation be conducted and all the circumstances of the incident be investigated," the ministry said in a statement.

It said it had conveyed that message to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry and was closely watching developments.

Polonsky's company, Mirax Group, experienced serious problems during the financial crisis and has been reorganized under the name Potok.

The flamboyant tycoon is perhaps best known outside Russia for an incident in 2011 in which Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev threw a punch at him during a television talk show. (Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Pravin Char)

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