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Cambridge Crown Court stays trial of Soviet dissident due to his poor health, says lawyer

Vladimir Bukovsky, 75, was not present in court during the hearing

LONDON, February 12. /TASS/. The trial of former Soviet dissident and writer Vladimir Bukovsky, accused of making and possessing indecent images of children, has been stayed by Cambridge Crown Court due to his ill health, his lawyer said on Monday.

"The case has been stayed. As a result Bukovsky will not be tried, he will never be tried. Bukovsky is unwell, he is in a very poor health", Robert Brown told TASS.

Earlier on Monday, defense counsel Francis FitzGibbon said Bukovsky has "serious illnesses of the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys".

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth, for his part, drew attention to the fact that Bukovsky "kept falling asleep physically in front of the jury". " I'm quite satisfied that due to the continued deterioration in his health... when it came to the moment whether Mr Bukovsky should or could give evidence we would be faced with a wholly impossible situation," the Press Association (PA) quoted him as saying.

"It wouldn’t be fair to try the man in those circumstances," he said.

TASS was told at the court that the session had been brief, just ten minutes, and Bukovsky, 75, was not in court during the hearing.

Bukovsky was accused of making and possessing indecent images of children in April of 2015. A trial in 2016 was halted as Bukovsky was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. After that, due to his ill health, hearings were repeatedly adjourned. The latest postponement was in July of 2017.

In the 1960s-1970s, Bukovsky was a well-known dissident activist in the former USSR, and in 1972 he was sentenced to two years in prison and five years of exile for "anti-Soviet propaganda". In 1976, he was exchanged at Zurich airport for Luis Corvalan, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Chile, imprisoned since the 1973 coup. The former Soviet dissident has lived in Cambridge since then.