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The court sentenced the opposition activist to eight years in prison that is twice longer than the prosecutor demanded

August 29, 2012, 11:32 UTC+3
The District Court of Smolensk convicted activist of the unregistered Other Russia Party Taisia Osipova, who is accused of drug sale, and sentenced her to eight years in prison
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MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — The District Court of Smolensk convicted activist of the unregistered Other Russia Party Taisia Osipova, who is accused of drug sale, and sentenced her to eight years in prison, though the prosecutor demanded only four years in prison for her. In December 2011 Osipova was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. However, at the beginning of this year the former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev named the verdict for Osipova, who has a little child and suffers from diabetes, “too severe” and instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to deal with the accusations against her.

The criminal case against activist of the Smolensk office of Other Russia Taisia Osipova was highly publicized after the former President Dmitry Medvedev commented on it last January, the Kommersant daily reported. During the first trial in December 2011 Osipova was found guilty of storage and trafficking of drugs and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Medvedev said at a meeting with the students of the journalism faculty of the Moscow State University that the verdict is “too harsh” and instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to deal with the accusations against her. After the presidential statement the verdict against Osipova was cancelled and the criminal case versus her was sent for a retrial. On Tuesday, the retrial over the criminal case against the Other Russian activist was completed in Smolensk. Although the prosecutor earlier demanded to sentence her to four years in penitentiary, Judge Igor Kozhevnikov sentenced her to eight years in prison unexpectedly for all participants in the trial.

Osipova’s lawyers noted that she had all chances for acquittal. During the repeated trial the key witness for prosecution Anton Mandrik stated that the operatives planted the drugs on her.

The guilty verdict against Osipova is a legal mistake, head of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said. “I hope that the mistake will be repaired, because I do not see any logics in the sentence, as the prosecutor demanded four years in prison, but the court sentenced her to eight years,” the newspaper quoted Fedotov as saying.

Under the law the judge should not take into account any position in the verdict, but the term in prison that is twice longer than the term demanded by the prosecutor is rare, head of the human rights organization Agora Pavel Chikov said.

Osipova became the first on the list of prisoners of conscience, which was made up and handed to the former President Medvedev by the oppositionists, the newspaper reported. Osipova’s criminal case became the first case that was retried. However, the human rights activists believe that after Medvedev had left the presidential post “this list is not topical any longer.”

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily noted that “the court did not take into account Medvedev’s recommendations.” “The court sentenced Taisia Osipova to eight years in prison that is twice longer than the prosecutor demanded. This is lynch, not a real trial,” the newspaper quoted co-chairman of the Solidarity movement Ilya Yashin as saying.

Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva is indignant with the foresaid sentence, the newspaper cited her as saying. “This is awful. A sick woman with a little child was sentenced to eight years in prison, though the guilty evidence against her is doubtful,” the oldest Russian human rights activist noted. The sentence for Osipova is mainly seeking “to intimidate the society” and is a logical continuation of all trials against the dissenters and the laws on nongovernmental organizations, rallies and the black list of the websites enacted hastily, Alexeyeva said. “Under the Constitution the courts and the judicial authorities should be independent from the executive authorities, but this is not so in our country,” the human rights activist said with regret.

The RBC daily claims that Medvedev’s interference could have played the negative role. “The fact that the publicly voiced opinion did not affect the court verdict pointed to the independence of the judicial system. This became an act of political loyalty. It would have been bad, if the court had heeded to the personal opinion,” President of the Institute of National Strategy Mikhail Remizov told the newspaper.

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