[JURIST] The Russian Supreme Court [official website; in Russian] Thursday rejected an appeal to overturn a life sentence for former Yukos [JURIST news archive] security chief Alexei Pichugin [Wikipedia profile] for his involvement in organizing a series of contract killings. Pichugin was convicted [JURIST report] by the Moscow City Court in August 2007 for organizing three murders and four attempted murders. Pichugin originally received a 24-year sentence [JURIST report], but the Russian Supreme Court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial [JURIST report] after prosecutors appealed the sentence as being too lenient. Pichugin's lawyers said they have already filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights [official website], claiming his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights [text] has been violated.
Pichugin has maintained that the charges against him were politically motivated as part of an effort to connect former Yukos executive Leonid Nevzlin [Forbes profile] to the deaths. Nevzlin is currently living in Israel to escape possible prosecution. Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive] and his business partner Platon Lebedev [JURIST news archive] are currently serving eight-year terms in a Siberian prison for fraud and tax evasion. RIA Novosti has more.