Moldova: Petrenko Group activists removed from courtroom for filming hearing

On Tuesday, September 20, some members of the Petrenko Group in Chisinau, Moldova, were removed from the courtroom after Pavel Grigorchuk, who had prior permission from the court, began filming the hearing, which heard from prosecution witnesses.

“Grigory Petrenko and I were removed from the courtroom because I broadcast the hearing. The court banned me, and Grigory began to speak out against this decision. The video is posted on my [Facebook] page. I broadcast the testimony of the policeman Erizanu, who acts as witness for the prosecution. Notably, he is one of those who sprayed gas against the protesters on August 27,” Pavel Grigorchuk wrote on social media.

Pavel Grigorchuk (center) filming court hearing on his phone.

After the decision of the Riscani sector judges, defense lawyers expressed no confidence in the judicial composition and demanded their removal.

“We express no confidence in the judicial composition, which provoked and created a situation of conflict out of nothing. One of the main motives is the ethical, moral and psychological failure of the judges to conduct business. You have witnessed a situation where a judge, without checking, interrupted the filming by Grigorchuk, not taking into account the conclusion of the previous hearing, when the same filming was permitted, and therefore the defendant was confident he was doing the right thing. For no other reason, the judge took the repressive way by resorting to one of the harshest punishments for the defendant – removal from the courtroom. The greatest insult that you can apply to the right to defense is removal from the courtroom,” said attorney Ana Ursachi.

According to her, banishment was the only method the court could come up with to respond to “the judge’s inability to manage in a normal way the situation, the conflict, which the court also created, given the decision of the previous hearing, in which filming was allowed.”

After more than two hours of consideration, the request for disqualification of judges was “rejected as unfounded” and the hearing was adjourned. “We expected that the withdrawal would be rejected, because no one in this court wants to deal with the political repercussions,” added Ursachi.

According to the lawyer, the reason for the “loss of a day’s work was the whim of the prosecution witnesses.”

“One day of work was destroyed because of the whim of witness Erizanu, who is afraid. I saw that the witness was blatantly lying. He was promised that he would not be punished as long as his protector in the shadows [oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc] remains in power, but that’s not for long. So they found a motive to delay the process yet again,” said Ursachi.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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