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Presidential human rights council acknowledges miscarriage of justice in second Yukos case

December 22, 2011, 12:51 UTC+3

The presidential council for developing the civil society and human rights under the Russian president unveiled the results of an expert examination of the second case Mikhail...

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MOSCOW, December 22 (Itar-Tass) — The presidential council for developing the civil society and human rights under the Russian president unveiled the results of an expert examination of the second case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and former Menatep director Platon Lebedev. Council members believe there is no corpus delicti in the case. They found numerous violations of the principles of criminal prosecution. The Council intends to request the prosecutor general to protest the verdict.

Member of the working group, former Constitutional Court judge Tamara Morshchakova announced the main results of the probe, RBK Daily writes. Under the verdict, Yukos engaged in criminal activities, but a group of experts "concluded that all the economic actions had legitimate groundwork and were therefore quite legal."

The court regarded as criminal the actions that were fully legal. "There is neither corpus delicti not the event of waste in the defendants' actions. The working group said all the contracts Yukos had made were absolutely legal, according to her.

"One of the main issues is the price of the contract. The experts discussed it too, because a crucial point in the indictment was that the price had been understated; the experts acknowledged that the wording was incorrect and, in effect, wrong," Morshchakova said.

Tamara Morshchakova underlined that all the experts had arrived at the conclusion that the verdict of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev was wrong, Kommersant writes. The newspaper reminds that in December 2010, Moscow's Khamovniki court sentenced the two men to 14 years in prison each on charges of stealing 200 million tons of oil from the Yukos company which they ran, and laundering the proceeds. On May 24, the Moscow City Court reduced their jail terms by one year. In January 2011, Council members, at a meeting with the president, suggested a public expert examination of the verdict to which Dmitry Medvedev agreed.

According to Mrs Morshchakova, the Council's working group only examined the materials handled by the court, i.e. the text of the verdict, the shorthand of court hearings and other documents open to the public. For example, economic experts concluded that all everything the former Yukos executives were accused of - vertically integrated structure of the company, where the central office controls all, concluding of general agreements, property transfer from one branch of the company to another under contracts - was legal, and that in this case, "they were punished for legitimate activity."

The rector of the Russian Economic School, Sergei Guriev, stated "the company's activity has nothing to do with violations.

In addition, the Council report notes violations of a number of norms of procedural law. "The presumption of innocence was obviously violated, the defense's evidence was not even considered by the court," Tamara Mroshchakova said, "experts compared the texts of the verdict and the indictment and found that 600 pages of more than 700 pages of the verdict matched the indictment." Injustice peaked when the court refused to drop part of the charges which the prosecutors had dropped.

Aside from recommendations on the case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, the presidential Council suggests "eliminating the negative consequences of similar cases." In the opinion of Council chairman Mikhail Fedotov, "it would be logical to continue the president’s course towards the liberalization of criminal legislation, by announcing amnesty to the persons convicted for economic crimes."

Political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko, cited by Kommersant, is confident that presidential candidate Vladimir Putin, unlike the incumbent president, can use the theme of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. "Khodorkovsky does not wish to admit his guilt - he has served many years already," the expert said, Putin may pardon Khodorkovsky and also announce an amnesty after the election, within the scope of improving relations with the West. Especially because Putin vies for business persons' votes in earnest, for the middle class in large cities."

The newspaper reminds that Vladimir Putin had recently stated he would consider Khodorkovsky's pardon plea, if the latter appealed.

Novye Izvestia reminds that on Wednesday, Yukos representatives challenged the ruling by the European court of human right, which refused to acknowledge the processes that had led to Yukos' bankruptcy, as politically motivated. It is not known yet when the petition might be reviewed. Yukos shareholders, led by former top managers Steve Tidy and Bruce Misamore filed an action in Strasbourg in 2004. They demanded 100 billion dollars from Russia for what they called an illegal alienation of property.



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