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Final arguments in trial of jailed Russian oil tycoon

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed oil tycoon who was convicted of tax evasion, has given his final arguments in a new trial for fraud and embezzlement. If convicted of the new charges, he could face additional jail time.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Khodorkovsky isn't hopeful for acquittal

A second trial of Russia's former richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, wrapped up Tuesday in Moscow, with the oil tycoon himself making a final argument against the charges of embezzlement he faces.

He is currently serving an eight year sentence from a 2005 tax evasion conviction; the present charges surfaced about a year before his potential release on parole in 2008 - parole which was denied.

Khodorkovsky believes political motivations will prevent him from being acquitted.

"While there is always hope, no one believes we will be acquitted," he told the court.

Supporters of the former boss of Yukos oil-company have long alleged that he was arrested at the behest of former President Vladimir Putin because Khodorkovsky supported opposition parties in the run-up to 2003 parliamentary elections.

Westerwelle weighs in

In a visit with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized possible political motivation behind the latest trial.

Guido Westerwelle

Westerwelle criticized the trial in Moscow

Westerwelle expressed "very serious concern about the conditions of the trial proceedings" and said it was in Russia's interest to take those concerns seriously.

In response, Lavrov said "the court would decide."

Addressing the judge on Tuesday, Khodorkovsky said that the fate of the entire nation rested on his verdict, which is expected to come on December 15.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, AP)

Editor: Matt Hermann

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