MOSCOW, November 12 - RAPSI. The defense of the jailed business partner of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev, has disputed the ruling of the Velsk District Court which mitigated his sentence from 13 to 10 years in prison, according to the statement of the appeal posted online on Lebedev's and Khodorkovsky's press center's website.
The press center reported that the attorneys decided to file an appeal with the Arkhangelsk Region Court, in which they seek to change the district court's ruling and reduce the punishment to the prison term which Lebedev has already served, as was initially requested.
The Arkhangelsk Region Velsk District Court ruled on November 1 to reduce Lebedev's prison term from 13 to 10 years, according to which he is due for release in July 2013.
The court considered the motion filed by Lebedev's defense attorney after amendments were made to the Criminal Code mitigating financial criminal liability. The attorney requested that the court re-qualify the charges under the amended articles and alter the penalty accordingly.
Vladimir Krasnov, Lebedev's attorney, said that "reducing the term from 13 years to nine years and four months, the term that Lebedev has in fact already served, will be the closest to a legal, just and humane term."
The YUKOS case has been one of the most high profile in Russia over recent years. In the early 2000s, the authorities accused YUKOS executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev of tax evasion. YUKOS, then the country's largest oil company, went bankrupt and its assets were taken over by Rosneft. Many in the West believe the case was politically driven. Moscow denies these charges.
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, considering the time they had already served for their previous convictions from their first trial. However, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year in May 2011.