MOSCOW -- A Russian court has found one of the top managers of the now defunct Yukos business empire guilty in absentia of ordering several murders and attempted murders.
The Moscow city court found Leonid Nevzlin, one of Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky's closest advisers, guilty of organizing murders including the killing of a local mayor, the presiding judge in the case said.
Nevzlin, who fled to Israel after Russian secret services arrested Khodorkovsky in 2003, was one of the most senior shareholders in the Yukos empire, which has been divided up and sold off by the state to pay for giant back-tax claims.
Nevzlin is accused of working with the former head of security of Yukos, Aleksei Pichugin, to carry out the murders. Pichugin was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2006 for carrying out murders.
Nevzlin has repeatedly denied the charges and says they are simply part of a plot to discredit Khodorkovsky, who says he was attacked by corrupt Russian officials who wanted to carve up his business empire, once one of Russia's biggest.