Ex-Pompey owner Vladimir Antonov’s extradition fight adjourned.

Vladmimir Antonov arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court today (16/12/11)''PICTURE: Paul Jacobs
Vladmimir Antonov arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court today (16/12/11)''PICTURE: Paul Jacobs
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FORMER Pompey owner Vladimir Antonov urged fans not to worry as his battle against extradition to face Lithuanian prosecutors was put back until January.

Antonov appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court facing allegations of a fraud of more than £200 at Lithuanian bank AB Bankas Snoras.

He spoke to reporters following the short hearing and The News questioned him over the future of Pompey.

He said: ‘Everything will be fine – Play Up Pompey on Sunday.’

Mr Antonov appeared in court along with Raimondas Baranauskas, a fellow shareholder at Snoras bank.

They were both subject to a European arrest warrant issued by Lithuanian authorities in November.

Ben Watson, prosecuting, said Antonov and Baranauskas were ‘co-conspirators’ in the fraud by transferring 897m litas (around £220m) into a Swiss bank account and then into accounts they controlled.

James Lewis QC, representing Antonov, said the allegations by the Lithuanian authorities were politically motivated.

He claimed the allegations from prosecutors came after journalists of a Snoras bank group-owned newspaper spoke out against the Lithuanian government.

He said: ‘On that date the government nationalised the bank without proper reason to say they wanted to expropriate all the assets.

‘The bank was nationalised on November 16 and on November 22 the political motive behind this was that the warrants were issued.

‘It was a politically motivated expropriation of assets.’

He also said there may be more than three experts ready to give evidence against the issuing of the European arrest warrants.

Speaking to reporters outside court, Antonov also said: ‘This is a political case and we are going to prove it.’

Judge John Zani ordered Antonov and Baranauskas to return to court on January 30 for a review hearing.

A preliminary hearing will be held on March 22 and 23 before a substantive hearing will be held on May 8 to 18.

The dates were set for the defence to gather evidence of fact, reports from witnesses and experts, and for the Lithuanian government to make a response.

Judge Zani also denied pleas from Mr Lewis and Baranauskas’ defence lawyer David Corker to change the pair’s bail conditions.

Antonov stood down as chairman of Pompey at the end of November after his firm, and the club’s parent company, Convers Sports Initiatives, went into administration.