Khodorkovsky Lawyer Sees New Trial

Jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos, will probably be put on trial again next year for embezzlement and money laundering, one of his lawyers said Wednesday.

Once the country's richest man, Khodorkovsky has served four years of an eight-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion. He was arrested in October 2003 and maintains his innocence.

Khodorkovsky says the charges were fabricated by his enemies in the Kremlin to punish him for his political ambitions and to carve up Yukos. The Kremlin said Khodorkovsky broke the law.

New charges were brought against him at the beginning of the year, when prosecutors said he had laundered more than $23 billion.

"The trial will probably go ahead in February ... the entire process is wrongful," Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam said, adding that Khodorkovsky's sentence could be extended by 10 to 15 years.

"The charges are completely bogus. It's a violation of basic human rights," Amsterdam said.

After Khodorkovsky's arrest, the authorities brought Yukos to its knees by imposing tens of billions of dollars in back tax claims before selling off its main asset.

State-controlled oil major Rosneft later bought most of Yukos' assets, turning it into the country's largest oil company.

"We are witnessing a period of lawlessness in the energy sector, and that really is without parallel," Amsterdam said.