Russian Human Rights Activist Alexei Sokolov gets 5 years
A court in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia has sentenced the head of the civic organization “Pravovaya osnova” [“Legal Basis”], Alexei Sokolov to 5 years strict regime imprisonment. Alexei Sokolov has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. An appeal will doubtless soon be appearing at : http://www.amnesty.org/en/ai Please respond and also pass this information on to others.
As reported here, Alexei Sokolov was until May 2009 an active defender of prisoners’ rights. He is the Head of the civic organizations “Legal Basis” [Pravovaya Osnova] which campaigns on torture and other ill-treatment of people held in Russia’s prisons and detention centres. He was appointed by the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation to a civic supervisory committee for ensuring human rights in places of confinement.
As AI writes, Alexei Sokolov became came prominent after he publicized and distributed a film about torture and other ill-treatment in a temporary holding centre in Yekaterinburg called IK-2. The film received wide coverage, both in Russia and internationally, and led to the closure of IK-2. The work of Legal Basis brought about several investigations into police and prison colony staff, accused of crimes including the use of torture to force suspects to "confess."
He was arrested on 13 May supposedly on suspicion of involvement in an attack in 2004 on the industrial base “UralTermoSvar” during which welding equipment and a cable were stolen. Five years on, two prisoners serving sentences for other crimes “confessed” to this one and named Alexei Sokolov as accomplice. The website www.grani.ru reports that Alexei Sokolov was originally charged with three robbery-based offences, however “For Human Rights” says that the court threw one out, leaving robbery in 2001 and armed robbery in 2004. The only evidence in either case is from repeat offenders who are believed to have incriminated Sokolov to get themselves shorter sentences. Some of those criminals had previously complained to Sokolov that they had been subjected to pressure, even torture, to get them to testify against the human rights activist.