Defence slams Khodorkovsky sentence as 'lawlessness'

30th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The 14-year jail term handed to Mikhail Khodorkovsky was "not a sentence but lawlessness" and came under pressure from Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a defence attorney said Thursday.

"This is not a sentence, this is a case of lawlessness," lawyer Yury Shmidt told reporters after the sentence, which will keep Khodorkovsky and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev in jail until 2017.

"There was pressure from the executive branch which is now headed by Putin."

Russia's powerful premier used a television appearance in advance of the verdict to affirm that a "thief must be in prison," in what the defence at the time interpreted as a direct order for the court to convict Khodorkovsky again.

The Yukos oil company founder was arrested in 2003 and convicted two years later on charges of tax evasion.

He and Lebedev were convicted again Monday in a second trial that focused on new charges of money laundering and embezzlement.

The defence team has already vowed to appeal the second verdict.

© 2010 AFP

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