Pussy Riot punks fall ill during Russia trial

1st August 2012, Comments 0 comments

The three members of an all-girl punk band who performed an anti-Vladimir Putin song in a Russia's top Orthodox cathedral required medical attention on Wednesday during their high-profile trial.

Court officials and lawyers said the third day of witness testimony was interrupted and a team of doctors called in when the three women -- all in their 20s -- made an unspecified health complaint.

"The three ambulances sent to Khamovnichesky Court really are meant for the defendants," defence attorney Nikolai Polozov wrote on his twitter account.

"According to court employees, they started to feel sick. There are no other details."

The lawyer separately told Interfax that the three women were being woken up at 5:00 am at their detention centre to attend the closely watched hearings and are not fed for periods of over 12 hours.

"They are brought back to their temporary detention centre after midnight, are left without dinner and can only get a few hours of sleep," Polozov told the news agency.

An official court spokesman said that medics had already completed their examination of the three band members and had concluded that they were fit to stand trial.

"We had to call in three ambulances because the defendants started feeling sick," spokeswoman Darya Lyakh told the RAPSI court news agency.

"After their examination, the doctors concluded that they can continue to take part in the court hearing," Lyakh said.

The three women -- who face up to seven years in jail if found guilty of hooliganism -- testified on Monday that they had wanted to change Russia with their action but could have made an "ethical" mistake by offending worshippers.

The controversial case has won them supporters among major Western arts stars and was condemned on Tuesday by the US State Department.

They were arrested in March and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred of Orthodox believers in a case showcasing the powerful Church's growing dominance under Putin's 12-year rule.

Russian Orthodox Church leaders have demanded strict punishment of the band members' actions and have been backed in their condemnation by leading members of the country's political elite.


© 2012 AFP

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