Top European rights court says Navalny conviction 'unfair'

STRASBOURG, France: Europe's top rights court ruled Tuesday that a conviction of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for fraud in 2014 by Russian courts was "arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable."

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the courts had "extensively and unforeseeably construed" commercial law in order to convict Navalny along with his brother for fraud and money laundering.

The decision follows a ruling last year by the court which found that a separate conviction in 2013 for alleged embezzlement of funds from the regional Kirov government was also unfair.

Navalny has always claimed the multiple court cases launched against him were politically motivated and designed to block his ambition of challenging President Vladimir Putin at the ballot box next year.

On Tuesday, Russia's electoral commission said that he would not be eligible to run for president until 2028 because of past convictions.

In the 2014 fraud trial, Navalny received a suspended sentence of three and half years, while his brother Oleg was sent to prison over the case related to their work for French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.

The court ordered Russia to pay damages of €10,000 (RM49,539) to each brother and reimburse their legal costs which amounted to €45,000 for Navalny and around €18,000 for Oleg.

Navalny shot to prominence as an anti-corruption campaigner at the head of mass protests against Putin in 2011-2012. — AFP