Former aide in Khodorkovsky trial to be questioned upon defense’s request

Natalya Vasilyeva, a former court aide in the trial of Russia’s once richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been summoned by the Investigative Committee after an official request, committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Tuesday.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev have been in prison since 2003 and were convicted of a second set of charges in December, extending their term to 2016.

In February, Vasilyeva said that the verdict on Khodorkovsky was imposed on judge Viktor Danilkin by his superiors at the Moscow City Court. Danilkin denied the accusation.

Following the claim, Khodorkovsky filed a request that an investigation be opened into the judge, as well as the prosecutors and investigators involved in the trial.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have always maintained that the charges against them have been trumped up.

Court procedures and the imprisonment of Khodorkovsky have been widely criticized outside Russia. The Russian government has always denied there was any political motive for Khodorkovsky’s prosecution and has defended the validity of the legal process in the affair.

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