The United States has criticized the second guilty verdict against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian oil tycoon. Khodorkovsky is now serving an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion that was originally mandated in 2005. He has recently been convicted of embezzlement at a new Moscow trial. Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s wealthiest man, and is now considered a political threat to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The U.S. and Germany have both raised concerns that the second judgment is confusing and overlaps with the first verdict. German officials have gone so far as to say that the second trial “is extremely dubious and a step backward.” The decision has raised red flags about the Prime Minister’s influence on the judiciary and fair administration of justice in the country.
An independent judiciary signifies credibility, integrity and equality before the law. In democratic nations where an independent judiciary is a vital part of the country’s infrastructure, this story is bound to cause concern.