Rights court attacks Khodorkovsky case

The European Court of Human Rights said yesterday it had found irregularities in the fraud case against the Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and ordered Moscow to pay him ¤24,500 (£21,400) in compensation.

The court in Strasbourg said the case "might raise some suspicion" over Russian authorities' intent in prosecuting him, but it had been presented with no evidence the fraud and tax evasion charges were politically motivated.

One of the tycoons who built fortunes after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, Khodorkovsky, 47, fell out with Vladimir Putin after airing corruption allegations, challenging state control over oil exports, and funding opposition parties. Many Western governments and businesses see his case as raising serious doubts about Russia's commitment to the rule of law. Khodorkovsky's lawyers welcomed the ruling as a victory.