The murder trial of a former president of the Russian Jewish Congress has begun.
Leonid Nevzlin, a former Yukos oil executive and a founding shareholder of Group Menatep, is accused of murder and attempted murder after a prolonged investigation that suddenly moved to trial this month. The trial began in absentia Wednesday; Nevzlin fled to Israel in 2003 and is living there in exile.
Nevzlin faces charges for the killings of several prominent officials and business figures between 1998 and 2004. They include for the slayings of a Moscow businesswoman and the mayor of a Siberian town where Yukos operated. The mayor had been critical of the company.
The head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is in a Russian jail on charges that are being seen as politically motivated. Yukos has since been split and auctioned off at favorable rates to oil companies in which the Russian government holds a stake.
In the courtroom Wednesday, the judge denied a request to delay the trial. Nevzlin’s lawyers said they had only been given a week to read nearly 20,000 pages of evidence against their client, according to gazeta.ru.