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Russia Faulted in Prosecution of Ex-Yukos Security Chief

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Russia violated the rights of Alexei Pichugin, the former security chief at Yukos Oil Co. who is serving a life sentence for murder, the European Court of Human Rights ruled.

Pichugin’s rights to a fair trial and liberty were breached during Russia’s prosecution of him on charges of murder and attempted murder, the Strasbourg, France-based court said today in a statement.

Pichugin was arrested in 2003 and convicted in 2005, a decision that was upheld by a higher court, according to a summary of his appeal. Pichugin claimed he was arrested “without a reasonable suspicion” and that his detention for nearly two years before trial was unlawful. He also argued that the trial was conducted unfairly.

The human rights court found five violations of his rights, including the “excessive length of the proceedings” on his appeals against his pre-trial detention. The court also faulted the lack of public hearings and inability to adequately challenge witnesses. Pichugin was awarded 9,500 euros ($12,360) in damages and costs.

“The European Court found that only an insignificant part of applicant’s rights were violated,” the Russian Ministry of Justice said in an e-mailed statement.

The human rights court found in favor of Russia on two points. One concerned the ban on detaining people without reasonable suspicion, and the second the length of appeals on 2003 detention orders.

Ksenia Kostromina, Pichugin’s lawyer, said she is satisfied that with court’s ruling, and there is “a basis for reduction of his sentence.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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