Khodorkovsky trial not fair says global human rights body
The trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky was not fair is the conclusion drawn in an extensive report released today by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) – the only organisation to retain a full-time observer in Moscow, Russia, for the duration of the trial, conducted between March 2009 and December 2010.
The 46-page report, entitled: The Khodorkovsky trial is severely critical of the prosecution of former Yukos Chief Executive Officer, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, who were convicted of stealing approximately two-thirds of the total petroleum output of Yukos and of laundering the proceeds in excess of USD16 billion. The report concludes that the trial’s processes were incapable of producing clear proof of the theft or embezzlement required for a sound conviction.
The IBAHRI Report criticises:
the indictments as being unclear as to the precise charges – describing them as ‘long, chaotic, mistake-ridden and self-contradictory’;
the explicit breaching of Article 220(2) of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, as the indictments do not ‘contain references to the volumes and the pages of the criminal case file’. Instead, there are multiple and contradictory allegations, seemingly obfuscating the process;
the continual amending of the indictments throughout the course of the trial;
the lack of ‘equality of arms’, in that the defence was not provided with a list of approved witnesses at the start of the trial while the list of prosecution witnesses was accepted from the beginning;
the detention of the accused, as it militated against them being able to mount a defence and therefore hindered their access to legal counsel; and
the lack of daily courtroom protocols – which in the Russian legal system take the place of transcripts of the trial. Although required under Russian criminal procedure law, they were not available until Judge Viktor Danilkin completed them some months after the end of the hearings. They are important not only for the defence to ascertain clearly the court’s rulings on the admissibility of evidence, but also for the factual basis on which a judge can construct the court’s decision and sentence. They were available for neither.
IBAHRI Co-Chair, Sternford Moyo, said: ‘Russia is a party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. However, there have been a catalogue of procedural errors in the trial which cumulatively violate the rights of Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev to a fair trial under the provisions of the mentioned conventions.’ He added, ‘I call on Russia’s authorities to demonstrate their commitment to agreements at the international level, to strengthening the rule of law and to a fair and impartial judicial system.’
Click here to download: The Khodorkovsky trial: A report on the observation of the criminal trial of Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky and Platon Leonidovich Lebedev, March 2009 to December 2010. The Russian translation of this report will be released this week and will be available via the IBA website .
For further information please contact:
Phillip Tahmindjis IBAHRI Co-Director
International Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4 4AD
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax:+44 (0)20 7842 0091