Court in Russia rules oil tycoon’s transfer to isolation cell was unlawful |

Court in Russia rules oil tycoon’s transfer to isolation cell was unlawful

Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW – A jailed Russian oil tycoon won a small victory Tuesday when a court in the Siberian town where he is imprisoned reportedly ruled that his transfer to solitary confinement earlier this year was unlawful.Prison authorities, however, later announced that the tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, would be returned to an isolation cell out of concerns for his safety after he was slashed in the face while sleeping last week.Khodorkovsky, 42, is the former chief of the Yukos oil company and was once Russia’s richest man.He was convicted on charges including fraud and tax evasion after a trial seen as punishment for his political ambitions and part of a state drive for control of the crucial oil industry. Yukos has been dismantled, and its main production unit is now under state control.He was sentenced to eight years in prison last May, and placed in an isolation cell for five days in January after he was found in possession of Justice Ministry documents on inmates’ rights.The city court in Krasnokamensk, where the prison colony is located, agreed with lawyers’ arguments that he was entitled to have the documents in his cell, saying they were not secret and had been published in the media, the Interfax and RIA-Novosti news agencies reported.Last week, lawyers for Khodorkovsky said he had been hospitalized at the prison 3,000 miles east of Moscow after another inmate slashed him in the face while he slept. Lawyers accused authorities of trying to cover up the incident.The director of the Federal Prisons Service later was quoted as saying that Khodorkovsky would be returned to solitary confinement because of the slashing.”In order to put an end to all speculation on convict Khodorkovsky, including about his life being in danger, we have decided to put him in solitary confinement. He will be safe there,” Yury Kalinin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.RIA-Novosti reported that another lawyer planned a complaint over a separate incident in which Khodorkovsky was placed in solitary confinement for drinking tea in an unauthorized place.Khodorkovsky’s lawyers say the punishments meted out for alleged infractions of prison rules are aimed at preventing him from obtaining parole by blackening his prison record.Vail, Colorado

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