Legal Expert: Yukos case could win in European Court

To date three complaints by former Yukos employees Platon Lebedev, Alexey Pichugin and Mikhail Khodorkovsky have been registered in the European Court for Human Rights, said Khodorkovsky's lawyer Karina Moskalenko in a press conference yesterday. She said the court should now begin reviewing the complaints. 'The complaints show the serious nature of the human rights violations against the plaintiffs. I think their case has a good chance of winning in court.'

Moskalenko emphasized that the European Court could only rule in the area of its competence. 'The European Court can only rule on human rights violations that are protected by the European convention. The court can not, for example, take a decision to free Mikhail Khodorkovsky from jail,' said Moskalenko. She said the court could rule that 'the individual is a victim of human rights violations guaranteed under article five of the convention which deals with taking an alleged criminal into custody.' 'Very often the fact that lawyers have appealed to the European court, however, motivates a country to stop the human rights violation. It is very important for the plaintiffs to gain a ruling that they are being held in custody illegally.'

Yukos security worker Alexey Pichugin is accused of murder. He was arrested last June and up till now has been held in custody waiting for the court to rule on his case. Yukos shareholders Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky are accused of tax evasion and fraud. Platonov was also arrested last June and Khodorkovsky was arrested last November. All of the attempts by their lawyers to arrange bail for their clients have been unsuccessful.

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