Khodorkovsky Was Denied Right to a Fair Trial, Court Says




  • In World
  • 2020-01-14 12:37:40Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian businessman who spent nearly a decade in prison in Russia on what he said were politically motivated charges by the Kremlin, won a second victory at Europe's top human rights court.

The Russian trial judge's refusal to "allow the defense to examine prosecution and defense witnesses and to submit important expert or exculpatory evidence" violated Khodorkovsky's rights and those of his former business partner Platon Lebedev during their second trial in 2009 and 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

The Strasbourg, France-based ECHR had in 2011 had previously ordered Russia to pay Khodorkovsky about $35,000 in damages for jailing him in "inhuman and degrading conditions" in 2005 around the time of his first conviction.

Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on businessmen who gained control of Russia's resource wealth after the Soviet Union collapsed. Khodorkovsky has maintained his innocence, saying the cases against him and the oil firm Yukos that he had built are retribution for financing opposition parties, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

Khodorkovsky was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud and tax evasion, in a case that was widely criticized by human rights activists including Amnesty International. From prison, he continued to campaign to help foster civil society in Russia. He was released in December 2013 by presidential pardon in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and now lives in London, where he continues to criticize the Kremlin and advocate for political change in Russia.

Khodorkovsky, 56, welcomed the European tribunal's verdict, which he said marked a defining moment in proving the illegality of the so-called Yukos affair.

While the court didn't back up the accusation that the prosecution of Russia's then-richest man was "purely political," it determined that "what the Russian authorities did to me and my colleagues didn't amount to a fair trial," Khodorkovsky said on Facebook.

Embezzlement Charges

Lebedev was freed from prison in January 2014 after also serving nearly a decade following his 2005 conviction for tax evasion and 2010 conviction on the same money-laundering and embezzlement charges. Lebedev is in Moscow and is barred from leaving Russia under the terms of his conviction.

He said he would provide comment once he's read the entire decision.

In Tuesday's ruling, however, the ECHR didn't find the Russian trial judge had violated independence and impartiality rules, nor had he broken the principle of presumption of innocence of the two defendants.

Russia's Justice Ministry expressed satisfaction with that outcome, noting that the ECHR didn't find "convincing proof" of a political motive in the case.

Meanwhile, Putin was let off the hook for negative comments the Russian leader made during the trial about Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, which the court said hadn't violated the presumption of innocence. Putin had mentioned the pair being possibly complicit in murders for which Yukos' head of security had been convicted, and made comparisons with convicted U.S. fraudster Bernie Madoff.

(Adds Khodorkovsky's reaction in sixth paragraph)

--With assistance from Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Geneva at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Peter Chapman, Gregory L. White

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

China Demands Apology From Danish Newspaper Over Virus Cartoon
China Demands Apology From Danish Newspaper Over Virus Cartoon

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese Embassy to Denmark wants the newspaper Jyllands-Posten to apologize for publishing a drawing that depicts China's flag with virus symbols instead of five stars."We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and [cartoonist] Niels Bo Bojesen reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologize to the Chinese people," the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.When asked to comment, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen avoided any direct reference to Jyllands-Posten's cartoon."I have nothing to say on the matter other than [to note that] we have a very strong tradition in Denmark not just for freedom of speech for also for...

Food-Stamp Work Requirements Just Look Cruel
Food-Stamp Work Requirements Just Look Cruel

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In some circles, the notion that there's no free lunch isn't just a metaphor for our economic reality -- it's taken as a directive. That's the idea behind the view that to qualify for government benefits, an able-bodied adult should either hold a job or be in school. West Virginia

China Deaths Jump as Measures Fail to Slow Spread of Virus
China Deaths Jump as Measures Fail to Slow Spread of Virus

(Bloomberg) -- China's death toll from the coronavirus climbed to at least 80 as the country extended the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to contain an infection whose spread accelerated around the globe.Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the disease, on Monday as the

Sanders Goes After JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in New Ad
Sanders Goes After JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in New Ad

(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders goes after Jamie Dimon in a new campaign ad, labeling the JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive officer "the biggest corporate socialist in America today."The jab continues criticism by the Vermont senator and presidential candidate after Dimon knocked socialism in an op-ed published last week in Time magazine as part of its coverage of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Are you kidding me?" a Sanders aide exclaims in the ad, which was posted on Twitter. The spot cites Dimon's pay, including $31.5 million last year, and says JPMorgan received bailouts after the global financial crisis 12 years ago.Dimon, a 63-year-old billionaire, has previously...

Biden, Sanders Pull Further Ahead in ABC-WaPost National Poll
Biden, Sanders Pull Further Ahead in ABC-WaPost National Poll

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who represent rival visions for the Democratic Party, are solidifying their status as frontrunners in the crowded presidential field, according to a Washington Post-ABC News national poll.Coming just a week before voters finally get to have their say in the Iowa caucuses, the polls show Biden with a solid 32% overall among registered voters who lean Democratic, while Sanders registered support from 23%. Both are doing slightly better than in the same poll in October.Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was once considered a front-runner and earned endorsements from the New York Times a week ago and from the Des Moines Register in Iowa on Saturday, has...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World