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Khodorkovsky was illegally detained: Russia high court

The Supreme Court of Russia [official website, in Russian] ruled [press release, in Russian] Tuesday that former oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] and his business partner Platon Lebedev were illegally detained for their trial last year, a symbolic victory for the pair that will have no effect on their sentences. Although the two were already convicted and in jail for other charges, authorities moved them to pre-trial holding areas where indicted suspects await trial. Although Khodorkovsky's lawyer said the verdict was helpful, it will not have a significant affect on his clients' lives: "Unfortunately, no impact. They will say something like: 'Sorry, we were wrong. And the fact that you stayed in jail a few extra months—well, well, it happens. Maybe we'll even give you small compensation in this regard will issue. But everything else—has not been in our power.'" Khodorkovsky's legal team also announced that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] will be ruling on judgments against Khodorkovsky and Yukos Oil [press release] on September 20.

The Russian Investigative Committee [official website, in Russian] said in June that there was no evidence of undue pressure [JURIST report] by superiors on the judge that sentenced Khodorkovsky. Also that month, Khodorkovsky reissued his appeal for release on parole [JURIST report] after the first attempt was returned due to insufficient documentation. Khodorkovsky has served half of a 13-year sentence, reduced by a year [JURIST report] last month, for fraud, theft and money laundering, which under Russian law makes him eligible for parole. In December, Judge Viktor Danilkin sentenced [JURIST report] Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to six additional years in prison, extending their imprisonment to a total of 14 years. Their defense counsel staunchly criticized the ruling, claiming [press release] that the court blocked significant amounts of testimony and evidence submitted by the defense and systematically quashed objections to their omission. The verdict drew vehement international criticism [JURIST report], including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official profile], who said [press release] that the ruling "raises serious questions about selective prosecution."

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