Khodorkovsky legal team set to appeal

Robert Amsterdam, the Canadian human rights lawyer representing Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has vowed to fight on after his client was today sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

Speaking to The Lawyer today (Tuesday 31 May), Amsterdam, of two-partner firm Amsterdam & Peroff, indicated the defence team would be appealing the result.

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.

The case also saw Amsterdam lobbying the European Union for his client’s release, last year succeeding in getting the European Court of Human Rights to examine the case.

However, today, the court found Khodorkovsky – once Russia’s richest man – guilty of six out of seven of the charges and sentenced him to nine years. Former ex-Yukos executive Platon Lebedev, was also sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

“I’ve had better days,” Amsterdam told The Lawyer.

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, warned last month that Washington would be watching the outcome carefully “to see what it says about the rule of law in Russia”.

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