Former oil tycoon Khordokovsy pleads innocent at new trial

Former oil tycoon Khordokovsy pleads innocent at new trialMoscow - Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khordokovsky pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement and money laundering at a new trial on Tuesday.

"No, I do not admit guilt," Khordokovsky said after the charges were read out at a Moscow court.

Khordovovsky, former chief the oil concern Yukos, called the charges "nonsense" and vowed to defend himself against them, according to the news agency Interfax.

Khordokovsky's former partner Platon Lebedev, who is on trial with him, described the case against them as "a sham."

In their first trial in 2005, the duo was convicted of fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to eight years in a labour camp. They face 22 years in prison if convicted in their new trial.

Observers see the current hearing a test of the credibility and impartiality of Russian judicial system.

Some analysts believe part of the Russian political elite instigated the trial of the two businessmen after Khordokovsky began opposing the government.(dpa)