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Khodorkovsky and Lebedev got a chance for release

August 01, 2012, 13:54 UTC+3
The convicts could have been sentenced twice for the same crime
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MOSCOW, August 1 (Itar-Tass) — On Tuesday, Chairman of the Russian Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev’s court ruling was made public that the latter concluded an additional inquiry into the verdicts over both YUKOS criminal cases is needed, because the convicts could have been sentenced twice for the same crime. Meanwhile, he noted that the arguments of the lawyers “on the incorrect use of the substantive law” deserve attention. Khodorkovsky’s and Lebedev’s lawyers believe that they got a chance for the release of their clients.

Chairman of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev’s ruling sent to Khodorkovsky’s lawyers was made public on Khodorkovsky’s website. Under this court ruling the second criminal case against the former YUKOS CEO was passed to the Moscow City Court presidium again, the Vedomosti daily reported. Under this court ruling a week ago Lebedev cancelled the May verdict of the Supreme Court to deny trying a supervisory appeal against the guilty verdict. This text was not made public on the website of the court, but official representatives of the Supreme Court did not explain how a new turn in the criminal case is motivated.

Meanwhile, a source in the court already noted that Lebedev found wrong the refusal of lower legal instances to try a supervisory appeal against the verdict, as the realization of this right cannot be denied. Lebedev’s ruling contains approximately the same argument. “The arguments of the court deserve an inquiry, and the arguments of the appeals deserve attention and are sufficient to institute supervisory proceedings,” Lebedev’s ruling runs.

Khodorkovsky’s lawyers took these words as a little victory, the newspaper noted. “I praise Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Lebedev just for such a modest attempt to bring the judicial branch of power back to the basic common sense,” Vadim Klyuvgant stated. The court found that “the arguments of the lawyers cannot be just neglected that the second guilty verdict is passed just for the same crime as the first guilty verdict,” because the two verdicts (passed by the Meshchansky District Court in 2005 and the Khamovnichesky District Court in 2010) described the same offences of the same people and companies. Other arguments cannot be ignored, including the argument that the law improving the position of the convicts cannot be applied.

The presidium of the Moscow City Court now should try supervisory appeals of the lawyers and a request from the chairman of the Supreme Court, the Kommersant daily noted. Since under the verdict of the Meshchansky District Court that came into legal effect Khodorkovsky and Lebedev had already served the sentence, one can assume that the presidium of the Moscow City Court will have to review only the verdict of the Khamovnichesky District Court. The terms of keeping the accused in custody during the proceedings in this criminal case have already been considered in the Supreme Court in April 2011 and the court, which satisfied the supervisory appeals of the lawyers, ruled that Khodorkovsky’s and Lebedev’s arrests were illegal from August to November 2010. So, the Moscow City Court with due account of all changes seeking to liberalize the criminal legislation may release Khodorkovsky and Lebedev from custody already this autumn, when their appeals will be tried, the newspaper believes.

Meanwhile, Platon Lebedev’s lawyer Vladimir Krasnov told the Kommersant daily that the text of the court ruling contains not only a clause about the fulfilment of the procedure, but also the assessment of the chairman of the Supreme Court over all trials in the YUKOS criminal case that were held in the courts, which he supervises. “With all ‘Byzantine’ manner the ruling was made up (the lawyer meant a complicated text for comprehension) I take the conclusions drawn by Mr. Lebedev as a positive aspect with our long, almost ten-year criminal story,” the lawyer noted. The lawyer also noted that the amendments were introduced in Article 174-1 on December 7, 2011 that reduced the maximum sentence from ten to seven years, “Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were sentenced to eight years under this article of the Criminal Code. Since the law is retrospective in this case, the term in prison ruled under this article should be reviewed as well. Vyacheslav Lebedev actually pointed to this fact in his ruling, “The arguments of the lawyers should be heard in the supervisory instance.” So, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev got a chance to be released over the expiry of the term in prison this autumn, if not a chance for rehabilitation.

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