The former Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been slapped a new sentence that would keep him in jail for another six years in addition to the nearly eight years he has served so far.

A Moscow judge on Thursday handed down a 13.5-year prison term to Mr. Khodorkovsky (47), and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev, who are serving an eight-year sentence in a Siberian labour camp for fraud and tax evasion. In the new trial they have been found guilty of stealing $27 billion worth of oil from the Yukos company they once co-owned.

The second sentence will be counted from their arrest in 2003 and absorb the previous term. The judge said there was no basis for a suspended sentence and the defendants could only be reformed through “isolation from society”. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was Russia's President in 2000-2008, is believed to have been the driving force behind Mr. Khodorkovsky's trials.

The first trial was meant to discourage Russia's oligarchs from meddling in politics, while the second sentence appears to be an act of personal vengeance. Analysts also said Mr. Putin did not want Mr. Khodorkovsky to go free in 2011, ahead of presidential elections due in 2012. Mr. Khodorkovsky's lawyers do not rule out that a third case may be launched against their client.

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