Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil tycoon serving a prison sentence in Siberia, has been transferred to Moscow to face new charges of financial crimes, according to a court spokeswoman. The trial is due to begin on March 3.
AFP - Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been transferred to Moscow from his Siberian prison ahead of a new trial on fresh charges of financial crimes, a court spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
"The Khamovniki court in Moscow has been informed about Khodorkovsky's transfer to Moscow," court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva told AFP.
His friend and former business associate Platon Lebedev had also been taken back to Moscow for the trial, she added.
The trial, due to begin on March 3, is to examine charges of embezzlement and illegal financial operations against the duo, which supporters claim are aimed at keeping them in jail indefinitely.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, has been held in a prison in the remote far-eastern region of Chita since his condemnation in 2005 on charges of fraud and tax evasion in a case that generated international controversy.
The Interfax news agency quoted a security source as saying Khodorkovsky was now in Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina (Sailor's Rest) prison, the same detention centre where he was held before his first trial.
He was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and his Yukos oil company -- once a favourite of investment analysts for its transparency -- was gradually dismantled after being hit with massive back-tax claims.
Since his conviction, he has been serving an eight-year sentence in the remote region of Chita, in the far east of Russia.
The new trial means that Khodorkovksy risks an additional prison sentence that could rule out any possibility of him being released in the near future.
Russia has insisted it is dealing with Khodorkovsky fairly and that he committed financial fraud on a massive scale, starting in the 1990s when he acquired billions' of dollars worth of assets in privatization deals.
However, human rights campaigners and some international observers have said the charges have been trumped up to punish him for his opposition to former president turned Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Date created : 2009-02-24