Russian court rejects second Pussy Riot appeal

20th March 2013, Comments 0 comments

A Russian court said Wednesday it has rejected a second appeal by three members of punk group Pussy Riot of their conviction and two-year sentences for hooliganism over a performance critical of President Vladimir Putin.

Judge Ellada Bondarenko rejected the women's appeal to the presidium of the Moscow City Court, which has a supervisory role over city courts.

The judge ruled that the women's punishment was "fair and proportional to the offence", in a ruling posted on the court's website.

The court said the decision was taken March 15, although it was made public only Wednesday.

The judge also rejected an official complaint by Russia's rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who called for the verdict to be annulled and the women's case to be heard again, arguing that the offence was not serious enough to be classed as a crime.

The women's lawyer Irina Khrunova told the Interfax news agency that they would now submit a complaint to the chairman of the Moscow City Court, and then, if this is refused, appeal to the Supreme Court.

Two of the women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are serving two-year terms in remote prison camps for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred", despite the fact that both have young children.

At a first appeal stage in October, a judge ruled that the third woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, should have her sentence suspended because she only played a peripheral role in the "Punk Prayer" performance in Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour in February last year. She was released in the courtroom but is appealing her conviction.

Tolokonnikova has applied for parole, but prison camp authorities have decided not to support her request because she has been issued with formal reprimands.

Alyokhina is also planning to request parole, although she has received two reprimands.

The three women have submitted complaints to the European Court of Human Rights over their treatment in custody.


© 2013 AFP

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