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Defense Completes Closing Arguments In Trial Of Ex-Yukos CEO

8 April 8 (RFE/RL) -- Defense lawyers for former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky today wrapped up closing arguments in the 10-month criminal trial.

The lawyers criticized what they say is a politically motivated case orchestrated by the Kremlin and called for the judges to acquit Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev on charges of fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion.

Prosecutors have demanded the two be sentenced to the maximum of 10 years in prison.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will give final statements before the court adjourns to consider a verdict.

Defense lawyer Anton Drel said it could take until the middle of May for a verdict to be issued.

The criminal case against Khodorkovsky and the parallel tax assault on Yukos is widely seen as a Kremlin effort to crush Khodorkovsky's attempts to challenge President Vladimir Putin by financing opposition parties. (AP)