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Moscow Court rejects Lebedev fraud-case appeal

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MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against an eight-year prison sentence for ex-Menatep Group head Platon Lebedev.

Lebedev and his business partner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chief executive of Yukos Oil Company, were found guilty of tax evasion and large-scale fraud by a Moscow court in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison. On September 22, the Moscow City Court reduced their terms to eight years.

"We have received the decision from the chairman of the Moscow City Court today stating that there are no reasons to transfer the case to the court's presidium," said Konstantin Rivkin, who represents Lebedev's interests.

Rivkin said the chairman's contained no surprises. "Now we are free to appeal to the Supreme Court," he said.

The lawyer said it had taken three months to consider the appeal and present the decision, but the reasons for rejecting the appeal had been given in only a few paragraphs of the extensive judgment.

Rivkin added that he found it difficult to understand how the appeal could have been considered given that case materials had been transferred to the Supreme Court, which is considering an appeal filed by Khodorkovsky's attorneys.

In May, a Moscow City Court judge rejected appeals filed by Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and Andrei Krainov, an attorney for the Yukos founder, to start review proceedings on the guilty verdict delivered by Moscow's Meshchansky Court.

Khodorkovsky is serving his sentence in a penal colony in the town of Krasnokamensk in eastern Siberia, whereas Lebedev is at a colony in the Arctic region of Yamalo-Nenets. Krainov received a five-year suspended sentence.

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