Russian prosecutors demand 14 years jail for Khodorkovsky

22nd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian prosecutors Friday demanded 14-year sentences for jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, on trial for embezzlement.

"We ask finally for a sentence of 14 years in a standard-regime colony," prosecutor Valery Lakhtin said in final arguments at the trial at Moscow's Khamovnichesky district court of the ex-Yukos chief and his co-accused Lebedev.

Lakhtin said that the sentence should be "with consideration of time served," without elaborating.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos oil company and once Russia's richest man, have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was jailed along with Lebedev for eight years in 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges that his supporters argue were trumped up to punish the tycoon for daring to finance opposition parties.

Before being convicted, the two men spent two years behind bars in pre-trial detention.

They went on trial again on March 3 last year on fresh charges of embezzling millions of tonnes of oil and money laundering that they have derided as farcical, but which could see them jailed for another two decades.

At the time of his arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky was seen as a political rival to then-President Vladimir Putin.

Putin last month accused Khodorkovsky of resorting to murder to protect his business interests.

"His hands are stained with blood," Putin told a meeting of the Valdai club of leading international experts on Russia. "He killed people to protect the economic interests of his company."

© 2010 AFP

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