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Prosecutors Demand 10 Years For Khodorkovskii

29 March 2005 -- Prosecutors today asked a Moscow court to sentence Mikhail Khodorkovskii, the founder of the Yukos oil company, to 10 years in a prison labor camp for tax evasion and embezzlement.

Khodorkovskii has rejected the charges that stem from an alledgedly illegal acquisition of shares in a fertiliser company.

His supporters say the charges against him are Kremlin-inspired and are aimed to punish Khodorkovskii for his political ambitions.

Genrikh Padva, the head of Khodorkovskii's legal team, said the defense will request at least two days to prepare their response to the prosecutions evidence.

Khodorkovskii, once the richest man in Russia, was arrested in October 2003.

Parallel to the criminal case against Khodorkovskii, authorities launched a tax case against Yukos saying the company owes more than $27 billion in back taxes. The government auctioned off Yukos's main asset, Yugansneftegaz, to state-run Rosneft in a controversial auction last October.