Moldovan regime rebuffs European delegation, extends Petrenko’s arrest another 90 days

Despite the insistence of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and European Parliament deputies, judges of the Riscani district court in Chisinau, Moldova, rejected all requests of defense lawyers and fully granted the request of Prosecutor Nick Shendri for a 90-day extension of preventive arrest for political prisoners Grigory Petrenko, Mikhail Amerberg and Pavel Grigorchuk.

Grigory Petrenko (center) with European Parliament Member Helmut Scholz in court, Dec. 9.
The decision was made on Wednesday, December 9, by Judges Ludmila Ursu, Tatiana Bivol and Grigore Cazacu. The judges rejected as “unreasonable” defense requests to change the measure of restraint and release the political prisoners.

So Grigory Petrenko, Mikhail Amerberg and Pavel Grigorchuk will remain in custody until at least March 19, 2016.

At the same time, the judges rejected as unfounded the request by Grigory Petrenko’s lawyer for his medical examination in a specialized facility after being subject to the risk of tuberculosis infection in the penitentiary.

Political prisoner Grigory Petrenko denounced this process as a political punishment by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc.

“Today’s decision is not made by a court of law, but a judgment seat [kangaroo court]. Even PACE acknowledged that we are political prisoners, the members of the European Parliament all know that this is a political case, even the Chisinau  prosecutor Ivan Dyakov said that the case was fabricated.

“Today’s hearing was attended by European Parliament Deputy Helmut Scholz, who also recognized us as political prisoners.

“But despite this, they decided to extend the detention for another 90 days. Moreover, I was forbidden to have a medical examination. This is unprecedented. It’s a shame for the entire justice system. These judges answer to only one person — Plahotniuc. Shame on the judges Ursu, Cazacu and Bivol!” former deputy Grigory Petrenko said after the proclamation of the verdict.

MEP Helmut Scholz denounced the presence of masked, machine-gun wielding troops in the courtroom.
Recall that several members and activists of the opposition party Red Bloc, headed by former deputy and honorary member of PACE Grigory Petrenko, have been under arrest since September 6, following a peaceful protest against the oligarchic regime in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
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.

Within 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 colleagues as “political prisoners” and oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc as a “threat to democracy.”

Members of the European Parliament also demanded the release of the political prisoners.

Moreover, on Wednesday, December 9, Member of the European Parliament Helmut Scholz arrived in Moldova in connection with the case of the Petrenko Group. He was prevented from meeting with Grigory Petrenko at Penitentiary No. 13, but he was present at the hearing.

The European official said that that political prisoners led by former deputy Grigory Petrenko should be immediately released from custody.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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