( dpa )- A US anti-organized crime activist held in a Belarusian jail for close to two weeks will face charges of attempting to defraud one of the region's most notorious businessmen, security officials said on Monday.
Emanuel Zeltser , director of the American-Russian Law Institute (ARLI), has been held in a jail run by the KGB secret service in the former Soviet republic since March 12 on unspecified charges.
Zeltser will be charged with attempting to defraud Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili of unspecified property, a court official requesting anonymity told dpa .
Zeltser's lawyer confirmed the report by telephone, saying the charges would allege his client "attempted to obtain ( Patarkatsishvili's ) property using faked documents."
There was no official confirmation of the possible charge, or where Zeltser would ultimately stand trial.
Famed as Georgia's richest man, Patarkatsishvili made his fortune in Russia during the privatization of state industries in the 1990s in partnership with fellow London-based billionaires Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich .
Patarkatsishvili and his holdings had been described by Zeltser's ARLI as potentially linked to Russian organized crime. Patarkatsishvili died on February 12 in London, apparently of natural causes.
Zeltser's relatives and lawyer last week claimed Zeltser was suffering from harsh Belarusian prison conditions, and not being provided medicine to treat diabetes and arthritis.
Belarus police spokesman in response said Zeltser was receiving "sufficient medicines," without giving details.
Belarus' KGB waited more than a week even to confirm it had arrested Zeltser in the first place. The arrest took place shortly after he arrived in the Belarusian capital Minsk on a flight from London.
Zeltser's secretary, a Russian national, was also arrested and is being held in a Minsk prison on as-yet undisclosed charges.
Belarus' authoritarian government, led by former collective farm boss Aleksander Lukashenko , has embarked on an anti-America campaign in recent weeks due to worsening relations with Washington.
Zeltser's detention could be linked to Lukashenko's campaign, although the Belarusian ruler has made no public remarks on the arrest, observers said.