Alexa

Judge in Khodorkovsky case nears sentencing phase

 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in th...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky looks on from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow,  Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the ...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, talk behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, De...
 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, center right, smile from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center, is seen behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in th...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky looks on from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the ...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, right, talk behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, De...

Russia Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, center left, and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, center right, smile from behind a glass enclosure at a court room in Moscow, ...

The judge in the trial of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky neared the end of his reading of the verdict Thursday and could announce the new prison sentence before the end of the day.
Judge Viktor Danilkin has been speed-reading the verdict since Monday, when he pronounced the billionaire oligarch who posed a challenge to Vladimir Putin guilty of stealing oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds. By Thursday afternoon he had wrapped up the main section of the verdict, a summation of the 20-month trial that runs to hundreds of pages.
"We expect that this comedy will finally end today," said Khodorkovsky's mother, Marina Khodorkovskaya.
Khodorkovsky, 47, is in the final year of an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted of tax evasion. Prosecutors in the second trial have asked for a new sentence that could keep him behind bars until 2017.
The legal attack on Khodorkovsky and the state takeover of his Yukos oil company have been seen as punishment for taking on 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, has not softened his attitude toward the former oligarch. He recently called Khodorkovsky a thief and said he should sit in jail. The verdict has exposed how little has changed in Russia's judicial system under President Dmitry Medvedev, despite his promises to strengthen the rule of law and soften punishment for economic crimes. The length of the sentence was being closely watched for any sign that Medvedev's words carry weight.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 14 years, which defense lawyers said would run concurrently and keep Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev in prison until at least 2017.
Prosecutors accused Khodorkovsky and 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.
Defense lawyers said much of the judge's verdict was copied from the indictment and the prosecutors' final arguments.
Danilkin's conduct during the trial had raised some hopes among Khodorkovsky's family and supporters that he would prove to be more independent than the judge in the previous trial, who openly supported the prosecutors. Those hopes were dashed as soon as Danilkin began to read the verdict.
"They must have tortured him to get him to say what he did," Khodorkovskaya said. "He has put his title of judge in shame."
The guilty 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 : 2021-04-18 04:09 GMT+08:00