Nine year term for Russian oil tycoon

Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been handed a sentence of nine years in jail for a series of charges that centre on the running of his Yukos oil empire.

The Russian Supreme Court in a verdict that took 12 days to deliver found Mr Khodorkovsky guilty on six out of seven charges today that included tax evasion, embezzlement and fraud.

However, it emerged today that prosecutors are to consider bringing yet more charges against the former Yukos boss as his legal team said they would be appealing the ruling and planned to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Taking into consideration Mr Khodorkovsky's time on remand since his arrest in 2003, he will face at least seven-and-a-half years in jail in a lengthy 11-month trial that saw one charge dropped as it fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations under Russian law.

Along with his business partner Platon Lebedev, who also received a nine year sentence, Mr Khodorkovsky will have to pay a 17 billion rouble (£330m) fine.

A third co-defendant in the case, Andrei Krainov has received a five year suspended sentence.

Mr Khodorkovsky said the sentence was "Basmanny" justice - a term that his supporters coined to refer to what they consider to be a corrupt justice system, influenced by Russian politics - though this claim is strenuously denied by Russian prosecutors who claimed that vast sums had been "stolen" by the co-defendants.

The charges levelled at the Russian businessman date back to the advent of privatisation introduced in the 1990s that allowed the formation of Yukos which grew into Russia's largest oil company.

Facing a bill for billions of roubles in back taxes, Yukos has been broken up, but the company has lodged a counter suit against the Russian authorities claiming that it has been ruined.


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