Judge's assistant: Khodorkovsky verdict a farce

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 14, 2011 17:12

 
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MOSCOW — The assistant to the judge who convicted oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Monday the judge did not write the verdict and read it against his will in the Moscow courtroom.

The assistant's claim, laid out in detail in a lengthy interview, provides a rare look inside Russia's judicial system, where judges are susceptible to political pressure.

Judge Viktor Danilkin found Khodorkovsky guilty in December of stealing oil from his own oil company and extended his prison term through 2017.

The judge's assistant, Natalya Vasilyeva, who is also the spokeswoman for the court, said the verdict was imposed upon the judge when it became clear that his own ruling would not please the top Russian officials behind the politically driven case.

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