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Judge keeps Khodorkovsky waiting for sentence

Judge keeps Khodorkovsky waiting for sentence

The judge in the case against jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky finished his third day of reading the verdict Wednesday without announcing the new sentence.
The judge said Monday that Khodorkovsky had been found guilty and since then has been speed-reading the verdict, a summation of the trial that runs to hundreds of pages.
The sentence is to be announced last, which Khodorkovsky's lawyers expect to occur by the end of the week, before the start of Russia's 10-day New Year's holiday.
Khodorkovsky is in the final year of an eight-year sentence after being convicted of tax evasion, and the new conviction on charges of embezzlement and money laundering could keep him behind bars for several more years.
The legal attack on Khodorkovsky and the state takeover of his Yukos oil company have been seen as punishment for challenging the power of Vladimir Putin early in his presidency, including by funding opposition parties in parliament and publicly questioning appearances of Kremlin corruption.
Putin, now prime minister and still Russia's most powerful leader, clearly has not forgiven the former oligarch. He recently called Khodorkovsky a thief and said he should sit in jail.
Prosecutors accused Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev of stealing nearly $30 billion worth of oil from Yukos' production units and selling the oil abroad at market prices. The defense called the accusations ridiculous, arguing that prosecutors do not understand the oil business, including the payment of transit fees and export duties.
One of the defense lawyers, Yelena Liptser, said Wednesday that much of the judge's verdict was copied from the indictment and the prosecutors' final arguments.
"That is why we continue to hear totally absurd remarks and, frankly speaking, we are surprised that he hasn't deleted the most improbable stuff from the verdict," she told reporters. "We are discussing how we are going to appeal against the verdict and, naturally, waiting for the sentence that he is going to pass on our defendants."
Wednesday's session included at least one glitch. While reading the verdict in an impossibly fast monotone, Judge Viktor Danilkin suddenly stopped and said he had read one page by mistake, but he did not explain which one or why. The judge's reading also put one of the prosecutors to sleep for several minutes.
The verdict was widely condemned in the West as being driven by politics rather than the rule of law. The criticism, however, only angered Russia's government, which pointedly told the U.S. and Europe to mind their own business.


Updated : 2020-12-03 19:36 GMT+08:00