Moldova: Case against Petrenko Group falling apart, says attorney

October 23: Three political prisoners will be released after the expiration of their pre-trial detention, which suggests that the case is falling apart. This was stated by the lawyer for the political prisoners, Anna Ursachi.

“While the prosecutor’s office announced it had transferred the case against all the detained participants to the court, three people out of seven will be released on November 5. The prosecutors considered it inappropriate to continue their detention. Alexander Druz, Vladimir Zhurat and Oleg Buzni are to be released after the expiration of their current arrest,” said Anna Ursachi at a press conference in Chisinau on Friday.

According to the lawyer, “The prosecutors no longer see the need to keep them under arrest,” and “this is a signal that the case is beginning to fall apart before prosecutors began to defend it in court.”

“I predicted earlier, and always said that these seven men were selected by law enforcement simply because they wore T-shirts reading ‘PLH-PNH’ — a coded message to oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc,” said Ursachi. [The shirt means “Plahotniuc, fuck you!”]

Red Bloc activists march against oligarch Plahotniuc while marking the anniversary
of the Cuban Revolution in Chisinau, July 26, 2015.
“The fact that three of the seven will be freed is also a tacit admission by prosecutors that they had no grounds to detain the others — Grigory Petrenko, Mikhail Amerberg, Pavel Grigorchuk and Alexander Roshko — because all of them are charged with the same motive for arrest and detention. Therefore, since three of these men are being freed, I believe there is a need for the same action with the rest,” added Ursachi, noting that “on October 28 we will demand their unconditional release.”

The leader of the opposition party Red Bloc, former MP, and honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Grigory Petrenko was among protesters forcibly detained by police on September 6 after protests in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office and an attempt to set up tents on the sidewalk outside the institution for an ongoing peaceful protest against the oligarchic regime. All of them have been in jail since September 6.

The detention and arrest of the protesters caused a wave of criticism from international organizations, European institutions and politicians in several countries, who demanded their immediate release from custody.

Moreover, in the framework of the PACE autumn session, 32 deputies from all factions, representing 20 countries, signed a written declaration on the “Petrenko case,” in which they “clearly demand from Moldova the immediate release of all political prisoners.” Thus, according to lawyers, PACE recognized Grigory Petrenko and his companions as “political prisoners” and oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc as a “threat to democracy.”

Despite a request from representatives of PACE and the European Parliament, at the beginning of this week the Prosecutor General’s Office announced the referral of the case to the court.

The case of the political prisoners will be considered on its merits next week, on October 28.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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