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12 May 2004 -- The Moscow Municipal Court today rejected an appeal from former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii that he be released from prison pending his trial on fraud and tax-evasion charges.

Khodorkovskii has been in prison since October. Courts have repeatedly turned down his requests to be released.

Khodorkovskii's lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, said prosecutors have failed to find adequate reasons for keeping Khodorkovskii in prison. She added that usually only suspects considered dangerous are kept in lengthy pretrial detention.

"The appeal has been turned down, so the decision of the Basmannii [District] Court has come into legal force," Moskalenko said. "Perhaps it should be noted that [Khodorkovskii] has spent almost two months in custody without a court decision that was legally binding."

Yukos and its executives and main shareholders have been the focus of a probe widely seen as part of a Kremlin-driven effort to destroy Khodorkovskii's suspected political ambitions. The Kremlin says the investigations are aimed at curbing corruption.

(AP)
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