STRASBOURG, France, May 31 (UPI) -- The European Court of Human Rights has ruled the Kremlin's prosecution of former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was not politically motivated.
The decision Tuesday amounts to a setback for Khodorkovsky and his supporters who charge his arrest and imprisonment in 2003 was retribution for opposing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, The New York Times reported.
In issuing its decision, the court said Khodorkovsky's political activities at the time of his arrest did not absolve him from obeying the law.
"The fact that Mr. Khodorkovsky's political opponents or business competitors might have benefited from his detention should not have been an obstacle for the authorities to prosecute him if there were serious charges against him," the court said.
The wording of its decision left open the possibility that his lawyers could file a similar complaint in the future.
Khodorkovsky, once the owner of Yukos Oil, Russia's largest energy company, was convicted of tax fraud and embezzlement. He was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in a Siberian prison.