Moscow City Court Rejects Khodorkovsky Appeal, Cuts Sentence

The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal by Mikhail Khodorkovsky to overturn his conviction in a case that added six years to the eight years he received in 2005, while reducing the sentence by one year.

The jailed former billionaire head of Yukos Oil Co. will spend a total of 13 years in prison, including the eight years he is serving on previous charges, Judge Vladimir Usov said today. Khodorkovsky will now remain in prison until after 2016. The defense team will appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, spokesman Maxim Dbar said.

Khodorkovsky, 47, once Russia’s richest man, in December was sentenced to an additional six years in prison on fraud charges he says were filed because of his opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The U.S. and European governments said the verdict was a step backward for judicial independence and would harm the investment climate.

“The questionable circumstances of the case once again throw a negative light on the efforts to improve rule of law in Russia,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an e-mailed statement. “Legal certainty is a valuable asset and a prerequisite for investments as important as well as the citizens’ sense of safety and justice.”

Originally due for release in 2011, the 47-year-old has called the cases against him, which also include charges of oil theft and money laundering, retribution for his opposition to Putin. Khodorkovsky said today that a “poisonous Stalinist spider” wrote the verdict in his second trial for fraud and tax evasion.

President Dmitry Medvedev said May 18 that freeing Khodorkovsky wouldn’t be “dangerous” for Russia as he called for faster action to modernize the economy.

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