Siberian Court Extends Custody of Khodorkovsky

Siberian Court Extends Custody of Khodorkovsky ảnh 1

A court in east Siberia has extended the custody of Mikhail Khodorkovsky for another three months over a new probe against the imprisoned ex-head of Yukos, RIA-Novosti reported Friday.

The reason for the move was that the defendant and his lawyers had failed to study the case materials in time.

The new probe against the Yukos founder was upheld by the Moscow City Court September 19.

The new charges against Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who were convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2005, and are serving eight-year prison terms, include stealing government shares, expropriating oil, and laundering $25 billion earned from oil sales in 1998-2004. Both businessmen have denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated.

Khodorkovsky's defense team has repeatedly insisted their client be transferred from Chita in east Siberia to Moscow for the probe to continue, but complained that prosecutors had done everything to prevent this.

Khodorkovsky, who acquired oil assets through controversial privatization deals in the early 1990s, has insisted that his prosecution was orchestrated by the authorities to silence his criticism of President Vladimir Putin, and as part of a campaign to bring oil and gas assets under the Kremlin's control.

Once the largest oil producer in Russia, the Yukos empire collapsed after claims of tax evasion, which led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of its assets were subsequently bought by government-controlled oil company Rosneft.