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Murmansk court to hear appeals over arrest of 3 Greenpeaceniks

October 24, 2013, 6:14 UTC+3
Wednesday, the judges put off the hearings so as to give the defenders an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the materials
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MURMANSK, October 24 (Itar-Tass) - Court of the Murmansk region is expected to consider appeals of the last three activists of Greenpeace out the 30-strong party over the prolongation of their arrest by two months.

The party was arrested while trying get over to a Russian drilling rig in the Sea of Pechora from the aboard The Arctic Sunrise icebreaker.

The court will pass verdicts on the appeals filed in the name Paul Douglas Ruzycki, a senior assistant to the Dutch ship’s captain, crewmember Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, whose petition was to be heard October 17 but was put off pending a challenge of the interpreter, and cook Ruslan Yakushev, a national of Ukraine.

Wednesday, the judges put off the hearings so as to give the defenders an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the materials included in the case.

The court began hearings of the Greanpeace activists’ appeals October 8. Since that date, it has issued resolutions on keeping 27 representatives of Greenpeace in custody through to November 27.

Well-connected sources inside Greenpeace told Itar-Tass the lawyers defending the activists were planning to launch petitions against all the actions of the judges and investigators, including the rulings of the court of the second instance.

“However, no steps have been taken so far, as the lawyers did not have most of the appeal resolutions,” a source said.

The Arctic Sunrise waving the flag of the Netherlands approached the Prirazlomnaya drilling platform in the Sea of Pechora September 18, and the activists of Greenpeace it was carrying aboard made an attempt to get over to the platform, urging the developers of oil and gas reserves to stop drilling in the Arctic areas.

Russian border guards thwarted their action, however, and the ship was towed to the port of Murmansk.

At the beginning of October, the Leninsky district court in Murmansk answered a request from the investigators and imposed arrest for two months on all the 30 people who had been aboard the Arctic Sunrise. Their list includes the nationals of eighteen countries and four of them are Russians.

They were placed to detention centers in the city of Murmansk and other parts of the region.

All of them were charged with piracy initially but Russia’s Investigations Committee mitigated them to ‘hooliganism’ October 23. This means that the activists are now facing the maximum punishment of up to seven years in jail versus the previous prospect of spending ten years in jail.

Investigators do not rule out that extra charges might be issued to the activists over the fact they had offered resistance to the border guards.

The Netherlands filed a complaint with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg over the detention of Greenpeaceniks. The Dutch authorities demand a release of the ship and its crew. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said along with it that the efforts to resolve the problem diplomatically would continue.

Russian Foreign Ministry said on its part the Russian side had informed the Netherlands and the International Court of the Law of the Sea that it did not accept the arbitration procedure over the Arctic Sunrise case and had no plans to take part in the court litigations. “Still Russia remains open for settlement of the situation,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

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