Court neglected grounds for mitigating Pussy Riot sentence - Supreme Court
MOSCOW, December 12 (RAPSI) – The court that sentenced two Pussy Riot members to prison for committing hooliganism in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior overlooked possible grounds for mitigating the verdict, the Supreme Court said in its decision to return the case for review to the Moscow City Court.
The lawyers of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova previously submitted complaints in this regard to the Supreme Court. Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin supported Tolokonnikova’s complaint.
The Supreme Court writes that the verdict does not include proof that the girls planned their behavior to demonstrate hatred of a particular social group. Lukin wrote in his complaint that their actions were not criminal and that the girls should have received an administrative punishment.
The Supreme Court states that the presiding judge did not consider the deferral of punishment for defendants with young children.
“Furthermore, the court neglected to take into account several other considerations of significant importance for passing a fair verdict, namely, the defendants’ young age, the opinion of the injured parties who did not insist on a harsh punishment, the marital status of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, their living conditions, as well as the non-violent nature of their unlawful acts,” the Supreme Court writes in the document.
In February 2012, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas staged a punk rock prayer in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. An edited video of their performance was posted on the Internet and caused a public outcry.
In August 2012, the Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow sentenced Tolokonnikova and two other Pussy Riot members – Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – to two years in a prison settlement for hooliganism.
In October 2012, the Moscow City Court changed Samutsevich's verdict to a suspended sentence and released her immediately, based on her new attorneys' argument that she had been seized by security guards prior to reaching the altar and did not actually take part in the performance.