Russian prosecutors asked Friday for a 14-year prison sentence in the second case against former oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive], though his sentence could be reduced based on time served for a prior conviction. Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev [defense website] are charged with embezzling [JURIST report] USD $25 billion worth of oil produced by their company Yukos. The men pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] and have maintained that the charges are politically motivated. The court could take weeks to deliver the verdict. The prosecutors asked that the court take into account time served, but it was unclear whether they meant from the time Khodorkovsky was first detained in 2003 or from the new charges filed in 2007.
Khodorkovsky was once Russia's richest man and large political campaign contributor. He and Lebedev are currently serving eight-year prison sentences after being convicted [JURIST report] in 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges stemming from an attempt to embezzle and strip their Yukos [JURIST news archive] oil company of valuable assets. Earlier this year, former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] testified that former president Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive] ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Khodorkovsky because he had funded the Communist Party [party website, in Russian] without first getting approval to do so from the president.