Khodorkovsky appeal condemned by observer

23rd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 September 2005, MOSCOW - Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky will begin an eight-year prison term within 10 days, penal officials said Friday, a day after his appeal was thrown out by a Moscow court.

23 September 2005

MOSCOW - Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky will begin an eight-year prison term within 10 days, penal officials said Friday, a day after his appeal was thrown out by a Moscow court.

It was still not clear which of Russia's 765 correctional facilities the ex-CEO of the Yukos oil company will serve the sentence handed down to him in May for fraud and tax evasion.

"It will not be in the Moscow region because there are no corrective colonies here," a spokesman for the Moscow prison service told the Interfax news agency.

The Moscow city court on Thursday rejected the appeal and confirmed the original nine-year prison term with a reduction of one year.

In a message to a conference of Russia's SPS liberal party that he used to fund, Khodorkovsky, 42, said Friday he hoped to be free again "in two or three years".

Russia's previously richest man was sentenced together with his co-defendant and business partner Platon Lebedev.

The defendants were in detention for some two years during their trial and will have the time deducted, rendering their release with good behaviour possible around 2007, justice authorities also said.

Khodorkovsky's lawyers are now considering taking their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, there was renewed criticism in Western Europe of the jailing of the businessman

"This is a clear farce that has no semblance of a legitimate appeal process," said German parliamentarian Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger, who observed the Khodorkovsky trial for the Council of Europe.

But Russian authorities were unrelenting.

"No epochal event should be made out of a common case of fraud and tax evasion," said Natalya Vishnyakova, spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office in Moscow.

Khodorkovsky was arrested in October 2003 amid a growing confrontation with the Kremlin over his business and political ambitions.

Russian authorities also moved against Yukos, crippling the giant oil company with demands for billions of dollars in back taxes and fines.

DPA

Subject: German news

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