The Prosecutor doth protest too much
Nine months after a court ruled that Mikhail Trepashkin be transferred to a harsher regime penal colony, and after a number of seemingly inexplicable postponements, the appeal hearing was finally heard on 15 November.
With two weeks to run on Trepashkins sentence, the hearing could not really be delayed much longer, nor was the verdict upholding the original ruling unexpected. Mikhail Trepashkin has already been awarded damages by the European Court of Human Rights over conditions in Russian detention, and it is most unlikely that this will be the last application lodged in Strasbourg. Over the last nine months as we have repeatedly reported, he was held in conditions which could endanger his life given his serious asthma condition.
And so it was decided that all was in order. The report given by Mikhail Kriger, Coordinator of the Public Committee for the Defence of Mikhail Trepashkin, who was at the court hearing, is extremely telling.
The Prosecutors representative left, so to speak, no conceivable argument unturned in “proving” that all was well. Trepashkin was indeed, according to her, a “persistent infringer” of the penal regulations, and his complaints as well as the administrations applications had been thoroughly checked. And it was not, apparently, required that a court ruling come into effect in order for it to be implemented. And the fact that the penalties imposed had long since expired was also no problem since they had been valid on 9 March at the time of the original ruling.
And anyway, according to the zealous Prosecutors representative, the decision to grant Trepashkin early conditional release in 2005 had been unlawful*l.
And finally, it was already “inexpedient” to revoke the ruling since Mikhail Trepashkin was soon to be released and the whole subject would become redundant.
An argument, it must be said, which should bring any justice system to the floor and gasping for air.
Aside from the staggering argument that his previous early release had been unlawful, to which Mikhail Trepashkin responded by asking why those who released him had not been punished, his other arguments were those he has consistently made. All “infringements” are based on supposed reports lodged with the administration by other prisoners. None was summoned to appear in court. He repeated his allegation that the penalties imposed had been based on testimony of people serving sentences for serious crimes who should not be in an open penal colony (where Trepashkin was moved from).
After a drawn-out break, the judgment was issued. At least his sentence was not extended because of the period of early conditional release. The original ruling was upheld, however the decision to confine him in a in a prison cell being used as a remand unit [PCRU] was revoked. This presumably means that officially he did not spend the time in conditions so detrimental to his health. One assumes the Court in Strasbourg would be less than convinced.
It is likely now that Trepashkin will be moved back for the remaining two weeks of his sentence. Mikhail Kriger ends his report on an ominous note: “We can only hope that Trepashkin will emerge alive and mentally fit”.
These words were not written lightly. It is very important at this time that media attention is focused on Mikhail Trepashkin. We were not able to achieve his release from a politically motivated sentence. At least lets ensure that the public eye keeps him safe now.
* In August 2005 Trepashkin received conditional early release after a ruling by the Tagilstroevsky district court in Nizhny Tagil . however by September of the same year FSB agents had forced him back to the colony and the court ruling had been revoked by a higher court.
Mikhail Krigers report is posted at: http://news.trepashkin.info/