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Moscow Court To Hear Khodorkovskii's Appeal

Mikhail Khodorkovskii (file photo) 14 September 2005 -- A Moscow city court is due today to open hearings on jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovskii's appeal of his nine-year prison sentence on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

Riot police were lined outside the court, where rival groups of protesters were expected to hold demonstrations for and against the former head of the Yukos oil company.

Defense lawyers have asked that the hearing be rescheduled saying their access to trial records has been restricted and also that the date of the hearing was set illegally.

Defense lawyers yesterday said they expected Khodorkovskii's appeal to be wound up within days, ahead of the registration fate for a parliamentary by-election in early December in which Khodorkovskii has said he will run.

Under Russian law, Khodorkovskii can run for parliament as long as his appeal is under way.

Reports say Khodorkovskii's jailed business partner, Platon Lebedev, has instructed his lawyers not to participate in today's appeal.


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