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Moscow City Court upholds conviction of activist Sergei Mokhnatkin (Open Russia)

posted 9 Apr 2015, 13:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Apr 2015, 13:06 ]
3 April 2015

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

Original source: Open Russia

Moscow City Court has confirmed the sentence given to activist Sergei Mokhnatkin, who was convicted of assaulting a police officer, his lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, who is a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, stated.

“All I can say about today’s court session is the following: that Sergei Mokhnatkin defended himself wonderfully well. When we had spoken we thought that the court would at least partly have heard what we had said; we prepared complaints and an analysis of the violations of the law, and these were added to the case materials. The court turned out to be deaf to everything, but most surprising was that, in line with the new procedural code, on appeal the evidence can be newly investigated. Today I was able to see for myself that the advantages of the new procedures are not being used at all, because the court impedes the use of this approach by the defence. We had the right, and we demanded that we should be able to question the so-called victims in the case, and the witnesses, but we were refused in every instance on the grounds that the court had enough evidence.

“The court thinks that they have sufficient evidence for a verdict of guilty. There is no occasion to talk about equality of arms, and this means that the right to fair trial is totally violated both in the pre-trial stage and during trials at first instance and on appeal. The only progress we achieved is that yesterday, after four months, the court granted me a meeting with Mokhnatkin. For four months I was not allowed to see Mokhnatkin in pre-trial detention and all my written complaints were left without an answer. Only yesterday we were allowed to have a meeting, but we could only get to the pre-trial detention centre an hour and a half before it closed, and the time I could spend with my client was therefore limited. There have been a great number of such violations.”

According to Mokhnatkin’s lawyers, he has been on a hunger strike since March 2nd. The defence demanded his full acquittal, maintaining that the police officers had themselves beaten the protestor when he was arrested.

Last December Mokhnatkin was sentenced to four and a half years in a strict regime penal colony. A year before that he took part in a rally organized by “Strategy-31” on Triumfalnaya Square. According to the investigation, on that occasion he punched two police officers, who were trying to detain him, in the face. Mokhnatkin was charged with offences under Article 318 of the Russian Criminal Code (use of violence against a government representative).

In the course of the investigation Mokhnatkin was sent twice to undergo a psychiatric assessment and in protest he started a hunger strike. The second psychiatric assessment declared him of sound mind and he was sent home.

Mokhnatkin has already been convicted under a similar article. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for allegedly breaking the nose of a police officer during a “Strategy-31” protest in December 2009. In April 2012 he was freed with a presidential pardon.

Translated by Margherita Galluzzi