Sept. 29: The judges on the judicial panel of the Riscani sector court in Chisinau, Moldova, exceeded their authority when they decided to remove the members of the “Petrenko Group” from the courtroom, and when they tried to remove attorney Ana Ursachi from the process to have a “tête-à-tête” with the prosecutors, it signaled they “have already written the verdict” in this case.
This was stated by former deputy Grigory Petrenko, on Thursday, September 29, noting that he “came from the courtroom where police used physical force to expel us from the hall.”
“This is the second time that force has been applied against the Petrenko Group; it happened the first time on February 15. The judges behave insolently, in an absolutely biased way. This is not a trial, but its imitation. In the cases of [former government officials] Filat and Plato, trials are being held behind closed doors, and in our case, hearings are held without the accused, that is, without us. And now even more ridiculous, they want to remove our lawyer from the process. We will not be in the hearings, we will not have a lawyer – then what remains?
“This is another proof that it is a fabricated case, made to order. We do not trust the judges, and demanded their removal. They have refused to transmit our appeal for consideration. I believe that there is no sense in participating in these games with [oligarch Vlad] Plahotniuc’s court. We are innocent, the case is political. I look with disgust at these judges, who are doing their best to follow the instructions of Plahotniuc and people from his entourage,” said Grigory Petrenko at a press conference organized at the Riscani sector courthouse.
According to the politician, the situation shows that “the verdict is already written,” and what is happening now is only an imitation of a trial. “While the defense attorney is suspended, the judges remain in a tête-à-tête with prosecutors, and try to consider so-called business. In fact, the verdict is already written, and this is an imitation of justice and a trial. Everyone should know the names of the judges: Natalia Klevady, Grigore Cazacu, Tatiana Bivol — they will go down in history as the most obedient lackeys of Plahotniuc’s regime,” said the leader of the party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc).
Petrenko added that after today’s judicial conduct, they would petition international bodies and request monitoring of the case. “To have these iniquities taken into account, they will have to assess the situation in Moldova in regard to human rights, the independence of the judiciary. I firmly believe that, just as happened earlier this year, future hearings will be attended by representatives of the embassies of EU member states, the United States, the OSCE mission. We will inform the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe, PACE co-rapporteurs for Moldova, and make every effort to ensure that international bodies respond to this lawlessness,” he said.
Recall that the September 29 court session was interrupted after judges rejected a request for their disqualification, filed by lawyer Ana Ursachi, and ordered the expulsion of the accused from the courtroom. Attorney Ana Ursachi then exited in protest.
Subsequently, the court threatened to remove her from the process, but because this maneuver is unseemly, imposed a group of “public defenders” on the Petrenko Group.
The court hearing was rescheduled for Monday, October 3.