Presidential council urges review of second Khodorkovsy case

Mikhail Khodorkovsky  (AFP Photo / Alexey Sazonov)
Russia's Presidential Council on human rights has suggested that the Investigative Committee consider reviewing the second case against ex Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.

"It is necessary to recommend that the prosecutor general files a supervisory motion against the sentence on this issue, which has come into legal force, for its annulment," said the Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights, as cited by Interfax.

In addition, the body suggested that the Investigative Committee consider launching proceedings on the grounds of newly-discovered circumstances, and also explore reasons for revising this case “in light of fundamental violations during its investigation, which indicate a court error.”

On Wednesday, the council presented a report made in the wake of the human rights watchdog's probe into the criminal case against the two jailed businessmen. The initiative which launched the expert examination was put forward by President Dmitry Medvedev back in February this year, at a meeting with the council.

Experts discovered that over 600 pages out of the 700-page verdict on the second case against Yukos were copied from the guilty verdict on the first criminal case against the former oil giant.

According to the presidential council, Russian criminal law provides no grounds for the actions ofKhodorkovsky and Lebedev cited in the second case to be defined as a crime.

"The actions of the convicts constitute neither appropriation, nor misuse of funds," Council member Tamara Morshchakova said at the body's meeting. "This is yet another fiction that our justice system has succeeded in.”

Morshchakova – a former judge of Russia's Constitutional Court – said that the criminal prosecution of the two businessmen ran counter to international standards for such actions. There were violations at all stages of the second trial. The very launching of the case was illegal and the presumption of innocence was violated as no arguments presented by the defense were considered.

The analysts also stated that Yukos had not underestimated oil prices in its contracts.

“Experts discussed the prices indicated in the contracts as one of the key issues, since one of the important components of the indictment was the premise that the price in these contracts was undervalued, which term is not known to economics," Morshchakova pointed out. According to analysts, contracts signed between oil-producing and oil-processing companies absolutely met all legal standards.

The council underlined in its report that the working group examining the case refrained from offering any political judgment.

“The council invited a group of prominent Russian scientists, and also foreign experts, including from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands,” the head of the watchdog, Mikhail Fedotov told Itar-Tass earlier.

The document- which consists of three volumes containing a total of 427 pages – will be submitted to the president.

In December 2010, former oil tycoon Khodorkovsky and his business partner, former Menatep head Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in a second case against them. Both were sentenced to 13-and-a-half years behind bars. The new sentence was concurrent with the first one, which means that they were to remain behind bars until 2017. In May 2011, Moscow City Court ruled that the prison term for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev should be reduced by one year and the convicts should remain behind bars until 2016 instead.

The presidential council also urged an amnesty for people convicted of economic crimes. Experts believe the move would help to promote Russia's economic well-being as well as restoring people's trust in the courts and law enforcement agencies. Under the law, all decisions on free pardons are made by the lower house, the State Duma, and do not require presidential approval.