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MOSCOW, October 10 (Itar-Tass) — The Moscow City court on Wednesday upheld the verdict for Pussy Riot activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, sentenced to two years in jail for hooliganism at the Christ the Savior Church. However, the punishment for Yekaterina Samutsevich was softened to suspended sentence. Samutsevich was released from custody in the courtroom.
"The judicial panel of the Moscow City Court, taking into account the above circumstances, considers it possible to apply suspended sentence with respect to Samutsevich with two-year probation. If you, Samutsevich, violate a number of restrictions placed by law, or reoffend during this period, the suspended sentence for you may be replaced with a real jail term," presiding judge Larisa Polyakova said as she was explaining the appeal panel's decision.
The parties can file a supervisory appeal against the court's ruling within six months, she reminded.
Samutsevich is to report to the supervisory body at least twice a month while on suspended sentence.
At the Wednesday hearing, the Pussy Riot activists stated their innocence, and asked the Court to hold another inquest. Samutsevich's lawyer Irina Khrunova argued that the verdict for her client should be quashed as Samutsevich had not taken part in the "punk prayer" as she had been stopped and led out of the church.
The injured parties and their representatives called for upholding the verdict. The prosecutor for the state supported them.
At the beginning of the hearing, the lawyers of the convicted girls lodged a number of petitions, but the court turned down all them. Specifically, they requested another psychological and linguistic expert examination and the questioning of experts and investigators.
On August 17, Moscow's Khamovniki court found Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hate and strife. Judge Marina Syrova sentenced each defendant to two years in a general security penitentiary.
The court said the defendants' actions were not politically motivated. The three girls earlier called their prank at the Christ the Savior Church "an ethical error."
Meanwhile, the lawyers of Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova said they would appeal against the Thursday ruling.
"Of course, we'll appeal at a higher court and at international courts," lawyer Mark Feigin told reporters, underlining that he believed the ruling was unlawful and unjustified.
"The defence is happy for Yekaterina Samutsevich, but we still do not understand the Moscow City Court's ruling. The court did not say why it had not accepted the arguments with respect to Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova," he said.