MOSCOW, September 13 - RAPSI. The Russian Supreme Court has sided with former Menatep head Platon Lebedev in his appeal against the legality of his detention during his second trial, the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) reported from the courtroom on Tuesday.

The YUKOS case has been Russia's most high-profile court case in recent years. In the early 2000s, when YUKOS was the country's largest oil company, authorities charged its executives with embezzlement and tax evasion. In 2005, the court sentenced YUKOS CEO Khodorkovsky and his codefendant, former Menatep head Platon Lebedev, to eight years in prison. Many Western critics have stated the case against YUKOS was politically driven, but the Russian government has flatly denied this allegation.

In 2005, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced them to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into account the time they had already served for their convictions from their first trial in 2005. However, on May 24, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year each. The two are now expected to be released in 2016.

The Supreme Court just ruled that it was illegal for authorities to extend the detention of Lebedev and Khodorkovsky from May 17 to August 17, 2010, during their second trial.