France tells Russia of concerns over Khodorkovsky trial

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France urged Russia Thursday to "fully take into account the concerns" over the trial of Russian former mogul Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail after being found guilty of money laundering and embezzlement.

"The proceedings are not over, as the defence has said they will appeal this conviction," foreign ministry deputy spokeswoman Christine Fages said.

"We call on the Russian authorities to take fully into account the concerns raised by the trial in terms of the necessary affirmation in Russia of values that are part of our shared heritage: the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms," she said.

Russian judge Viktor Danilkin sentenced Khodorkovsky and his co-accused Platon Lebedev to 14 years in jail after finding them guilty of money laundering and embezzlement in a trial that started in March 2009.

With the sentence back-dated to his initial arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky will stay in jail until 2017, removing a key opponent of president turned Prime Minister Putin from the political scene for years to come.

France's reaction to the trial has been relatively muted, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she was disappointed by the verdict and "tough" sentence and that she suspected political meddling in the case.

© 2010 AFP

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