Amsterdam declaims Khodorkovsky ‘show trial’

Canadian human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who is representing Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has slammed the judicial process that saw his client sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

According to Amsterdam, key witnesses for the defence were not allowed to testify and the defence was not permitted to cross-examine key prosecution witnesses.

“The best you could call this is a show trial,” he said. He also described the court’s justification of the sacking of Russian defence lawyer Anton Drel’s offices as “laughable”.

Amsterdam added: “The catalogue of abuse from a human rights, legal and procedural standpoint is endless.”

Amsterdam, of two-partner Toronto firm Amsterdam & Peroff, has vowed to fight on and has indicated that the defence will be appealing the result.

The team will also lobby the EU and its member states to make the rule of law in Russia a key trade issue.

Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive of Russian oil giant Yukos, has been detained in pre-trial custody since October 2003, on charges of fraud and theft of state property.

Amsterdam lobbied the EU for his client’s release and last year succeeded in getting the European Court of Human Rights to examine the case.

Last week, Moscow’s Meschansky court found Khodorkovsky – once Russia’s richest man – guilty of six out of seven charges and sentenced him to nine years imprisonment.

Former Yukos executive Platon Lebedev was also sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

The Kremlin has been at pains to draw parallels between the Khodorkovsky trial and the Enron saga in the US. However, critics have alleged that the trial was politically motivated and unfair.