Presidential Human Rights Council Completes Review of Second Trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Source: (info), 15/11/11

· Human rights defenders  · Yukos affair  · Moscow city & Moscow region

The Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights has completed its review of the second prosecution and trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The results of the independent review, in the words of Tamara Morshchakova, a member of the Council and a retired judge of the Constitutional Court, will be published on the website of the Council after the report has been presented to President Medvedev. The President is due to meet the members of the Commission in the first half of December, reported, citing RIA Novosti.

The independent review of the so-called ‘second’ Yukos case, as a result of which Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were both sentenced to 13.5 years in prison, began at the end of March 2011. Members of the Presidential Council studied the official text of the verdict and the official text of the protocols of the trial hearings.

Tamara Morshchakova has been one of the initiators of the independent review of a series of high profile criminal prosecutions in 2010. In addition to the case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, Morshchakova was one of the initiators of the review of the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who worked for the Heritage Capital investment fund. Magnitsky died at the end of 2009 in pre-trial detention while detained awaiting trial on charges of tax avoidance.

The verdict in the ‘second’ Yukos case was delivered by Moscow’s Khamovniki district court on 30 December 2010. Judge Viktor Danilkin found Khdorkovsky and Lebedev guilty of stealing oil and money laundering. Taking into account the earlier punishment handed down in the first case relating to fraud and tax evasion, the total term of imprisonment to which the two men have been sentenced from the moment of their arrest in 2003 is 14 years.

Initially the term of imprisonment of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev would have ended in 2017, however on 24 May Moscow City Court reduced the sentence by one year. The businessmen now are set to be released in 2016.

Human rights defenders and a large part of the public believe that the judicial proceedings against the former owners of the Yukos oil company were politically motivated.