Pussy Riot hearing adjourned until October 10
MOSCOW, October 1 - RAPSI. The Moscow City Court has postponed its hearing of Pussy Riot's appeal until October 10 due to one of the convicts' rejection of her defense attorney's services. The Pussy Riot punk band members had been issued a two-year prison sentence for disorderly conduct in church, an offence which was believed by the court to have been committed out of religious hatred.
Please find the detailed text broadcast of the Pussy Riot sentencing hearing here.
On February 21, 2012, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas stood at the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and performed a protest song entitled, "Holy Sh*t." Shortly thereafter, an edited video of the performance that was uploaded to the Internet incited a public outcry.
Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of disorderly conduct and sentenced on August 17 to two years in prison.
The Criminal Code stipulates a maximum punishment of seven years in prison for this kind of offence. Nonetheless, the aggrieved parties have said that the custodial sentence could will be replaced by a conditional one.
After the sentence to Pussy Riot was handed down, the church issued a statement requesting the authorities to be merciful, in the hope that the convicts would not "repeat their blasphemous acts".
On Monday, Samutsevich turned down the services of her attorney Violetta Volkova based on serious differences in their positions.
Presiding Judge Larisa Polyanka initially denied her motion, reasoning that Samutsevich had failed to adequately explain the reasons of her decisions. Having explained only that her own views differed from those of the attorneys, she didn't provide adequate justification.
Samutsevich then claimed that a refusal to consider her request would constitute a violation of her rights, prompting the judges to adjourn the hearing for several minutes to consider the claim. The panel of three judges then adjourned the hearing for consideration of the claim.
Upon returning, they inquired into the opinions of all of the interested parties. Everyone except one attorney for the aggrieved parties agreed.
During their second adjournment for reconsideration, the judges announced their decision to grant Samutsevich’s motion.
The appeal hearing will resume on October 10 at 11am, giving Samutsevich’s new attorney an opportunity to gain familiarity with the case.