Judicial control of Petrenko Group extended as their attorney faces witch-hunt

Chisinau, Moldova: Magistrates of the Riscani sector court in the capital granted prosecutors’ request to extend judicial control over former parliamentary deputy Grigory Petrenko and his comrades, who were arrested in autumn 2015 for protesting against the regime headed by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc.

Petrenko Group members in court.

The judges decided that the members of the so-called “Petrenko Group” will be under court supervision for another 30 days, which includes a ban on leaving the country and taking part in protests.

It should be noted that the decision was made in the absence of the defendants’ legal counsel Ana Ursachi, as well as the members of the Petrenko Group, who left the hearing in protest on Monday, October 31.

Explaining his decision, the former deputy wrote yesterday on social media that “there is no doubt what the decision will be.”

“In protest against the judges’ decision to consider prosecutors’ request for extending preventive measures in the absence of our legal counsel, we left the courtroom. A public advocate was imposed on us, which we officially refused a few weeks ago, as we have our own defender. But the court ordered the state lawyers to be present during the process, even if they do not know our names. Not to mention the materials of the case.

“These lawyers sit like rabbits, openly telling us that they are forced to attend, because they are afraid of losing their contract with the state. We left. The judges remained alone with Plahotniuc’s prosecutors and the fake lawyers!” wrote the former deputy.

“There is no doubt what the decision will be. All of Plahotniuc’s behavior and actions towards dissidents and opponents of the regime once again proves that he is a coward and psychopath, not prepared for honest confrontation, unable to respect the laws and regulations that exist in democratic societies. Plahotniuc, why not just hand down a sentence? Why this performance and simulation of a trial?” Petrenko wrote on October 31.

Against the backdrop of a smear campaign and pressure exerted in the media of oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc against attorney Ana Ursachi, her clients are forced by the court to abandon her services, and the judges decided to hear the case in the absence of elected legal counsel. It happened at the October 31 court hearing in the case of the Petrenko Group.

Although the defendants demanded to postpone the meeting until Wednesday, when their attorney Ana Ursachi could attend, the court agreed to consider the prosecutors’ request without the Petrenko Group’s legal defender ; this decision was also proclaimed in the absence of the legally elected lawyer.

Representatives of the Petrenko Group saw the court’s decision to extend judicial control as “arbitrary, illegal and unjustified,” as “a continuation of the Plahotniuc regime’s repression” against Grigory Petrenko and his comrades.

The former deputy leader and leader of the opposition party “Our Home is Moldova” (Red Bloc) Grigory Petrenko and his comrades, who were arrested after taking part in anti-oligarchy protests in September 2015, were recognized as “political prisoners” in a U.S. State Department report on human rights, by representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and by the German federal government.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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