Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

European Court: Khodorkovsky’s Rights Violated But Not Politically Motivated

Posted by Info on 31/05/2011

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that imprisoned Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s rights were violated after his arrest in 2003, but rejected his contention that the arrest and subsequent trial were politically motivated.

The court’s rejection of that contention appears to be a significant setback to efforts of Khodorkovsky’s supporters ( like AI) to portray him as a prisoner of conscience. He is due for release in 2016. The ruling appeared to be a setback for Mr. Khodorkovsky and his supporters, who argued that his arrest and imprisonment in 2003 were retribution for his outspoken opposition to Vladimir V. Putin, then the president and now the prime minister.

But the court ruled in favor of 8 of 15 complaints filed by Mr. Khodorkovsky’s lawyers, arguing that Russia committed grave violations of the former businessman’s rights during his arrest and pretrial detention.

The ruling from the court in Strasbourg, France, was made on an appeal filed in connection with his arrest and first trial. It ordered Russia pay 24,000 euros ($35,000) in damages for rights violations, including being held in cramped and unsanitary conditions and for extending his pretrial detention without justification.

Khodorkovsky was arrested when special forces officers stormed his plane at a Siberian airport. He had been summoned to be a witness in a criminal case and his detention was initially justified for having failed to appear. However, the court said, within hours of his detention he was presented with a lengthy list of criminal charges.

“The speed with which the investigating authorities had acted suggested they had been prepared for such a development and had wanted Mr. Khosorkovsky as a defendant and not as a simple witness. Therefore, his detention had been unlawful as it had been made with a purpose different from the one expressed, the court said.

Last year, Khodorkovsky was convicted in a second trial of stealing oil from his own company, the now-liquidated oil major Yukos. He was sentenced to 13 years on that conviction, with the sentence to run concurrently with his previous conviction.

Khodorkovsky had filed for parole, saying he is eligible for early release since he has served half of his 13-year sentence.

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