Khodorkovsky defence slams Putin's 'interference' in trial

16th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's comments on the new trial of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky represent direct interference in the process, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.

"This is direct interference in the trial and direct pressure on the court," lawyer Yury Shmidt told AFP.

In a stunningly terse statement when asked to comment in his annual televised phone-in on the case of Russia's former richest man, Putin commented: "I believe that a thief must be in prison."

Khodorkovsky, already serving an eight-year sentence in a case that has become a rallying point for Russian liberals, is awaiting the verdict in his second trial on charges of embezzlement.

© 2010 AFP

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