Canada 'troubled' by Khodorkovsky verdict in Russia

28th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Canada on Tuesday said it was "troubled" by the Russian judiciary's apparent lack of independence following the conviction of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on embezzlement and money laundering charges.

Khodorkovsky's conviction "can be seen to send a worrying signal about the rule of law in Russia," said Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.

"Political considerations should have no role in the judicial process," read the statement.

"We continue to stress the importance of transparency and respect for the rule of law."

The Canadian government "is troubled by the alleged lack of a judicial system that operates independently of the Russian government," the statement read.

Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky was serving time in prison on a fraud conviction and was set to be released next year.

But he and co-accused Platon Lebedev were put on trial on money laundering and embezzlement charges, and found guilty on Monday.

Khodorkovsky, the head of the now-defunct Yukos oil giant, insists the trial was politically motivated in retaliation for his support of Russia's opposition.

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday slammed as "unacceptable" US and European criticism of the guilty verdict.

"We expect everyone to mind his own business, both at home and in the international arena," it said. "Attempts to exert pressure on the court are unacceptable."

Khodorkovsky could stay in jail until 2017 if the judge agrees to the prosecutors' request.

It was not clear when the final sentence would be delivered.

© 2010 AFP

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