Undermining Rule of Law in the Second Khodorkovsky Trial

The following is an extract of a comment I wrote up for the legal news website JURIST on the due process violations that have characterized the run up to the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, due to begin in some weeks:

The defense team underlined the authorities’ responsibility to recognize these abuses as irremediable, and to fulfill their legal obligation to halt the proceedings.

As detailed throughout the motion, in the authorities’ haste and zeal to push forward with a new indictment, they have tortured, blackmailed, threatened and jailed potential witnesses; held secret trials; refused to admit any evidence that could prove Khodorkovsky’s innocence; brushed aside requests for explanations of the allegations; harassed and disdainfully treated defense counsel making it difficult or impossible for them to do their jobs; conducted searches and seizures without court approval; ignored the presumption of innocence; slandered reputations; kept Khodorkovsky unapprised of critical procedural developments; concealed and manipulated key evidence; and isolated Khodorkovsky in the far reaches of Siberia.

Clearly exploiting and abusing the Russian criminal justice system for political and mercantile ends, those behind the ongoing persecution of Khodorkovsky are not relenting in their efforts to sully his reputation, deny him any active role in Russian society, and legitimize the seizure of the Yukos Oil Company by state-backed individuals.