Khodorkovsky on trial. Again


Court hearings on the new criminal case against Miknail Khodorkovsky, the ex- head and major shareholder of Yukos, and Platon Lebedev, his business partner, is to begin soon.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been charged with theft and money laundering (art.160(3)(a,b), art.174(3), art.160(4) and art.174-1(4) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

"Preliminary investigation established that [Khodorkovsky and Lebedev] being members of an organized group which included major Yukos shareholders, misappropriated stocks belonging to the Eastern Oil Company … worth 3.6 million rubles," the Russian Prosecutor General's office said. The charges also include theft of oil and laundering 25 billion US dollars earned from the oil sales in 1998-2004.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, already serving an eight-year prison term, have denied the allegations.

"The copy of this 'masterpiece' [the bill of indictment] was handed to the defendants yesterday in Chita," the defence lawyer, Vadim Kluvgant, said. "We have not studied the content yet."

Now that the formal indictment has been approved by the prosecutors the case will be referred to court.

Khodorkovsky, 45, and Lebedev, 41, were found guilty of tax evasion and large-scale fraud in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison. The Moscow City Court later reduced their terms to eight years.