Russia violated rights of accused spy: European court

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The European Court of Human Rights Tuesday condemned Russian for denying a scientist accused of selling state secrets his right to liberty and a fair trial.

Igor Sutyagin, arrested in October 1999, was accused of passing military and technical information to a London-based consulting firm called Alternative futures.

The Strasbourg-based court awarded Sutyagin, a Russian national who specialized in military research, 20,000 Euro (29,600 USD) in damages.

After his arrest, Sutyagin remained in detention while awaiting trial that only began in September 2003 and was delayed further when his case was assigned to a different judge.

He was finally sentenced to 15 years in prison in April 2004, a judgement confirmed on appeal the following August.

In a statement Tuesday, the court noted that "people charged with criminal offences ought to always be released pending trial unless there were relevant and sufficient reasons to keep them in detention."

The ruling also scolded Russia for disregarding the fact Sutyagin had a visa to travel abroad that expired in November 1999 and "had not considered any measure, other than detention, as a possibility to ensure his appearance at trial."

The court, which received Sutyagin's petition in July 2002, found that doubts about the objectivity and impartiality of the court could be "objectively justified," as the initial judge was replaced for "unknown reasons."

Born in 1965, Sutyagin, who now lives in London, was released in July 2010, following a prisoner exchange between Russian and the United States.

© 2011 AFP

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