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Khodorkovsky probe extended until May 2

MOSCOW, January 18 (RIA Novosti) - Prosecutors have extended until May 2, 2008 a probe into ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, currently serving eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion, a lawyer said Friday.

On December 27, a district court in Chita, in east Siberia, where Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev are serving their sentences, upheld a lower court's decision to extend custody against the two men until February 8, 2008, in relation to a new probe.

In December 2006, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were transferred from prison to a pre-trial detention center in Chita for the period of a new investigation against them.

Yury Shmidt said that the extension was sanctioned after prosecutors partly upheld on Tuesday the application from a civil plaintiff at Sandheights Ltd, which had required additional documentation for the criminal case. The new materials will be delivered to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev on January 21.

The new charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, who were convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2005, include stealing government shares, expropriating oil, and laundering $25 billion earned from oil sales in 1998-2004. Both businessmen have denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated.

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