Khodorkovsky, Lebedev deny all charges in trial

April 21st, 2009 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, April 21 (RIA Novosti) Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev denied all the charges against them in a trial in Moscow Tuesday.
“No, I do not admit my guilt,” Khodorkovsky said. Lebedev made a similar statement, saying, “I have never stolen anything in my life.”

He labelled the new charges brought against him as “schizophrenic fraud”.

“I declare that the state prosecution committed a crime by putting forward such forged accusations,” Lebedev said.

The two men, who have been serving eight-year sentences for fraud and tax evasion since 2006, were transferred from a Siberian prison to a Moscow detention centre to answer the fresh embezzlement and money laundering charges.

The new charges deal with the theft of government shares and the laundering of money earned from illegal oil sales, in total worth about $50 billion. If convicted, the two could see their jail terms extended by 21 years.

Lawyers acting for the businessmen have called their clients political prisoners, and say the new charges are “disgraceful” and unsubstantiated.

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