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Russia: Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are prisoners of conscience

‘These two men have been trapped in a judicial vortex’ - Nicola Duckworth

Amnesty International has declared Russian businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev prisoners of conscience after the two men’s convictions on money laundering were upheld yesterday.

The Moscow City Court reduced the sentences of the two men from 13-and-a-half years’ imprisonment to 12, but failed to address any of the serious procedural violations that have marred the criminal proceedings from the outset of the investigation.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said:

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev’s first convictions there can no longer be any doubt that their second trial was deeply flawed and politically motivated.

“The failure of the appeal court to address the fundamental flaws in the second trial and the fact that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev have already spent eight years in jail on barely distinguishable charges, points to the conclusion that their second convictions have been sought for political reasons relating purely to who they area.

“For several years now these two men have been trapped in a judicial vortex that answers to political not legal considerations. Today’s verdict makes it clear that Russia’s lower courts are unable, or unwilling, to deliver justice in their cases.

“The Supreme Court offers the last possible hope for justice. Their convictions must be overturned and the two men released on the expiry of their current sentences.”

Following the conviction of the two men on 27 December 2010, Amnesty expressed grave concerns over the timing of charges, the harassment of lawyers and witnesses and procedural violations including the exclusion of evidence that might have exonorated the defendants, and the denial of the right to examine and cross examine witnesses.   

The organisation concluded that their convictions were unsafe and called for them to be overturned on appeal.

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