U.S. basketball star Griner requests acquittal at Russian attraction listening to By Reuters

© Reuters. U.S. basketball participant Brittney Griner seems on screens by way of video hyperlink from the detention centre earlier than a courtroom listening to to contemplate an attraction towards her jail sentence, in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Area, Russia October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenin

KRASNOGORSK, Russia (Reuters) – U.S. WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner’s legal professionals urged a Russian attraction courtroom to acquit her on Tuesday or at the least cut back her nine-year sentence, which they mentioned didn’t match the offence of possessing and smuggling hashish oil.

“No choose, hand on coronary heart, will truthfully say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in step with Russian prison legislation,” her lawyer Alexander Boykov instructed the panel of three judges.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was arrested on Feb. 17 at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is banned in Russia. She was sentenced on Aug. 4.

At her authentic trial, she pleaded responsible to the costs however mentioned she had made an “sincere mistake” and had not meant to interrupt the legislation.

The attraction listening to was held in a courtroom in Krasnogorsk close to Moscow, with Griner collaborating by way of video hyperlink from a detention centre within the city of Novoye Grishino, simply exterior the capital, close to the airport the place she was arrested.

Carrying a black and crimson lumberjack shirt over a black hooded prime, the 32-year-old alternately sat or stood in her cell, generally with head lowered, generally leaning towards the white bars.

The state prosecutor instructed the courtroom that Griner’s sentence was “truthful”.

Maria Blagovolina, additionally representing Griner, mentioned: “There was no intent in her actions … The substance was used for medical functions.”

Boykov listed a sequence of what he mentioned have been procedural flaws in Griner’s conviction, however requested that “if the courtroom needs to punish her, [it should] give her a brand new, ‘truthful’ verdict and mitigate the punishment”.

“The severity and cruelty of the sentence utilized to Griner shocks individuals around the globe,” he mentioned.

Griner’s legal professionals have beforehand mentioned they count on a call on the attraction to be issued in a while Tuesday, shortly after the listening to.

U.S. President Joe Biden known as the unique verdict “unacceptable”.

U.S. State Division spokesperson Ned Worth mentioned on Monday that Washington was working to free Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, serving 16 years in jail after being convicted of spying, and that there had been “lively discussions, together with in current days”.

“We’ve not weighed in on the assorted judicial proceedings and judicial steps as a result of as we’ve made clear, we consider that these proceedings have been largely shambolic,” Worth instructed reporters.

Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. chargee d’affaires in Moscow, was current at Tuesday’s attraction listening to.

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