Khodorkovsky found guilty, sentenced to nine years in prison

A court on Tuesday declared tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty of an array of charges including fraud and tax evasion, and sentenced him to nine years in prison minus time served.

The declaration of guilt and sentence came in the 12th day of the laborious verdict-reading process in the most closely watched trial of post-Soviet Russia.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company and once estimated to be Russia's richest man, has already spent 583 days in jail, meaning he would serve about another 7.5 years in prison.

Khodorkovsky looked straight ahead as the sentence was pronounced. Then, asked if he understood what had been pronounced, he said "no sane person" could understand the verdict.

Supporters have claimed that his trial was part of a Kremlin-driven campaign to punish him for funding opposition parties and to stifle his own political ambitions. The sentence would keep him in prison well past the 2008 presidential elections and potentially during the 2012 elections as well.

Also sentenced to nine years on the same charges was Khodorkovsky's business partner Platon Lebedev. A third defendant in the case, Andrei Krainov, was given a 5.5 year suspended sentence.

Associated Press

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