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MOSCOW, August 4 (Itar-Tass) — Friday marked the fifth day of hearings of a case over the three female activists of the Pussy Riot punk group, who are accused of an outrageous act in Moscow’s Cathedral of the Savior in February.
The court completed the scrutiny of evidence provided by the prosecution and began to examine the evidence provided by the defense.
The activists’ lawyers told reporters the defense team is ready to hear seventeen eyewitnesses. However Justice Marina Syrova entertained the public prosecutor’s petition and challenged thirteen eyewitnesses, including the oppositionists Alexei Navalny and Marina Baronova , writers Dmitry Bykov and Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Islamic theologian Heidar Jemal, and two immediate eyewitnesses of the February 21 incident in the Cathedral of the Savior when the Pussy Rioters jumped out of the blue to the solace adjoining the icon-stand and started performing “a punk prayer” parodying the believers’ actions during a real sermon.
The judges thus invited three witnesses to the courtroom – the women’s teachers and a college mate of Maria Alyokhina, one of the three women who are standing trial.
One more witnesses did not manage to arrive in the courtroom.
The defense team insists on summoning one more expert to refine the formulations provided by the board of experts. Lawyer Violetta Volkova said the experts had for some reason examined a clip uploaded in the Internet after an obvious montage, instead of examining the footage recorded immediately in the Cathedral of the Savior.
Defenders of the nonconformist activists also challenged Justice Syrova, the sixth time since the start of the trial, but the challenge was turned down.
Several incidents occurred during the court hearings Friday. A group of young men supporting the Pussy Rioters climbed to the cornice of a neighboring building and threw several smoke pellets towards the windows of the court and shouted out slogans in support of the arrested women after that.
Also, the judges did not let one of the attendees, a friend of the defendants back into the courtroom after a brief break. Court marshals took him out of the court’s building after he started protesting the judge’s decision.
Prior to February 21, the Pussy Riot punk group had more than once drawn public attention to itself by bizarre actions in public places, including the place of public addresses on Red Square and Moscow’s Museum of Biology.
The three women have been charged with hooliganism. If found guilty, they may face jail terms of up to seven years.
The Pussy Riot trial has had a resounding effect. The public at large is divided on whether or not the women should be awarded criminal punishment for their action.