Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky sentenced to 14 years jail term

Already serving an eight-year sentence from their first trial, 47-year-old Khodorkovsky, who now faces imprisonment until 2017, and his business partner Platon Lebedev, were handed down 14 year terms by a Moscow court in the second case of embezzlement and bribing shareholders of their Yukos Oil Company.

Judge Viktor Danilkin read out the full 250-page verdict pronouncing them guilty of embezzling 218 million tonnes of oil from Khodorkovsky's former oil firm Yukos and laundering over USD 97.5 million (3 billion roubles) in revenues, Vesti FM radio reported.

Russian prosecutors had pleaded for a sentence of 14 years for each of the pair in the new trial but also qualified this by saying it should run concurrently with the term handed to the former businessmen in their 2005 case.

The two men, who have already spent seven years in jail for fraud and tax evasion from their 2005 trial, face up to six years in prison. Quoting sources close to Khodorkovsky, RIA Novosti said he could be released in 2017.

The trial is widely viewed by analysts as a political vendetta by Russian strongman Putin, whom Khodorkovsky challenged by funding the liberal opposition in the early part of this decade.

Judge Danilkin earlier this week convicted the pair in their second trial on money laundering and embezzlement charges, a verdict condemned by the US and other European countries as selective prosecution.

Moscow and Washington traded barbs over the fresh trial of the ex-oil Yukos owner. "Regarding the statements from Washington and several EU capitals on the trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, we would like to reiterate that it is within the cognizance of Russia's law.

"We expect everyone to mind their own business, both at home and in the international arena," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko had said. He was responding to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement expressing concerns over the human rights in Russia and 'selective use of law' by the authorities.

In a recent TV interview, President Dmitry Medvedev had said that he wanted the law to take its course and expressed his willingness to order probe against other Russian businessmen on similar charges 'if evidence is put on my table'.

Comments (+)