Foreign experts to assess verdict to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev

Russia’s President’s human rights council has postponed the independent expert assessment of high profile criminal cases of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, former owners of the Yukos oil company. According to the council’s member Mara Polyakova, the expertise of the legal proceeding on the second trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will begin after the court’s decision comes into force. 

“Initially the council was to start an independent expert assessment on Thursday.  It is expected that the expert group will include not only Russian but also foreign legal experts,” – the Council’s member Tamara Morshchakova told the “Voice of Russia”.     

In December 2010, the court sentenced Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to 14 years finding them guilty of oil theft and money laundering. The two has already served seven years under the first penalty for embezzlement.  

After the court brought the verdict there were many letters from the right activists pro and con Khodorkosky and Lebedev. The liberal mass media are still trying to find political motives behind the legal process. Also a number of popular writers and artists came up with the initiative to recognize Khodorkosky and Lebedev as “prisoners of conscience”.  

However the supporters of Khodorkosky and Lebedev are not legal experts and this is the task for professional lawyers to carry out an independent expertise.

In February the idea of the Council to carry out an independent expert assessment of the case was approved by the President Dmitry Medvedev.

The experts will study the verdict and the materials of the legal proceedings. They won’t study the materials of the case because under the law only the participants in the legal proceedings have the access to them.

Tamara Morschakova, the member of the council and former judge on the Constitutional Court, told the Voice of Russia about the expert group:

“Of course, most of the experts in the group are Russians, but as for the legal principles, which are the same for all the countries, it will be interesting to get an option of foreign experts. That is why the Council invited the experts from abroad.” 

In fact it is a wide spread practice abroad when they invite foreigners to analyze controversial issues.

So far the names of the experts have not been unveiled.  It is known that the council was in talks with experts from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the US and Canada.

The experts will work confidentially and on non-repayable basis. The experts’ report will contain exclusively legal assessment of the verdict. It will be available for everyone who wants to get familiar with it.

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