Court finds breaches of rights of former Yukos executives over second trial and also rejects several complaints


Re: Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev v Russia (No 2) (Applications nos. 51111/07 and 42757/07)

This case concerned the second trial of former executives of the Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and Platon Lebedev. During the trial, the judges refused to call several witnesses for the defence and rejected requests for finance and oil market specialists to come and testify in the applicants’ favour on the expert reports which had been part of the prosecution case. The applicants complained under Article 6 (right to a fair trial), mentioning the trial court judge’s lack of impartiality and independence, a lack of confidential contact with their lawyers; the taking and examination of evidence; and a breach of the presumption of innocence. They also complained under Articles 7, 8 and Article 4 of Protocol No 7.

The Court held unanimously that there had been breaches of the applicants’ right to a fair trial under Article 6 (1) and Article 6 (3) (c) and (d) of the European Convention on Human Rights because of the trial judge’s refusals to allow the defence to examine prosecution and defence witnesses and to submit important expert or exculpatory evidence. However, the Court unanimously found no violation of Article 6 (1) concerning the independence and impartiality of the trial judge and no violation of Article 6 (2) (presumption of innocence) with regards to comments during the trial made by Vladimir Putin, prime minister at the time.

By five votes to two, the Court held that the applicants had suffered an unforeseeable application of the criminal law to their detriment, in breach of Article 7 (no punishment without law). It unanimously held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) because of a lack of long-term family visits when the applicants were on remand before the trial. The Court unanimously held that there was no need to examine the applicants’ complaints under Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) in conjunction with Articles 6 and 7 and Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 (right not to be tried or punished twice), and, no violation of Article 18 in conjunction with Article 8.

Jonathan Glasson QC was involved in this case.