MOSCOW, August 6 (RAPSI) - Russia's Supreme Court held Tuesday that the sentences of former YUKOS top manager Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev should be lowered to 10 years and 10 months, thus partially satisfying their requests on supervisory appeal.
Khodorkovsky who participated in hearing via video link spoke critically during his testimony of the work of the prosecutors. "The tasks (that the courts and law enforcement agencies face) in trials such as this one are often contradictory. The whole legal system is falling apart."
During trial, Khodorkovsky's attorney Vadim Klyuvgant drew the court's attention to the fact that Lebedev had already spent ten years and one month in jail, and Khodorkovsky had been behind bars for nine years and eight months. He further asserted that the verdict itself had been contradictory as there had not in fact been any theft of oil.
Klyuvgant said to the court that there were two groups of violations - inequality between the defense and prosecution, and obstruction of the work of the defense. With regard to the second point, he regcalled the decision handed down last month by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), where the court found that the defense attorneys had been subject to pressure.
In 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. They were expected to be released in 2017, taking into account the time that they had already served for their convictions from their first trial in 2005, when they were sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. However, on May 24, 2011, the Moscow City Court reduced their sentences by one year.
Then last year, the Moscow City Court reduced the sentence again from 13 to 11 years.
Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have asked the Supreme Court to overturn all previous court decisions as illegal and unjustified, and to grant their immediate release.
The defense team filed for a supervisory appeal in February 2012.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg held last month that the charges filed against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were brought in accordance with the law, but that their rights had been violated in connection with the court proceedings and their placement in remote Siberian penal colonies.