Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader ‘found guilty’

Ebun Francis with agency report

Alexei Navalny the leading opposition leader, in Russia, has been found guilty of embezzlement, local media report.

A judge was still reading the verdict in the city of Kirov, but news agencies said it was clear in his remarks that Mr Navalny had been convicted.

Mr Navalny has denied the accusations, saying the case is politically motivated.

Even a suspended sentence would bar the outspoken critic of President Putin from running for president next ye

A sentence in the retrial may take hours to be read out. Prosecutors had asked the judge to hand Mr Navalny a five year suspended sentence.

The European Court of Human Rights ordered a retrial after it said he was not given a fair hearing in the first trial, in 2013.

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In the earlier trial, in 2013, Mr Navalny was found guilty of heading a group that embezzled timber worth 16m roubles ($500,000; £330,000) from the Kirovles state timber company while working as an adviser to Kirov’s governor, Nikita Belykh.

He had described the rerun of the trial as an “exact copy” of the original proceedings, and said he was sure he would be found guilty once again.