Prosecutors demanded 4.5 years in prison for leader of the opposition party Our Home is Moldova Grigory Petrenko
Chisinau, Moldova: During a June 23 court hearing, prosecutors demanded that former MP, honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and leader of the opposition political party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc) Grigory Petrenko by sentenced to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment for organizing and participating in an anti-oligarchy protest on September 6, 2015.
For the rest of the participants arrested at the protest, known at the “Petrenko Group,” prosecutors demanded three years imprisonment.
At the hearing held on June 23 in the Riscani Sector court in Chisinau, the judicial debate [final arguments] in the Petrenko Group case began. Prosecutors asked for punishment for each defendant separately, and the defendants have the right to the last word in their own defense.
It is not known whether the sentence will be proclaimed on the same day as the verdict or later, since the court has up to 30 days to make a decision after the end of the trial.
Recall that former parliamentary deputy and leader of the opposition party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc) Grigory Petrenko and his comrades were arrested after taking part in anti-oligarchy protests in September 2015.
The Petrenko Group political prisoners have already spent six months in prison and two months under house arrest. Since their release they have been under judicial control, with a ban on participation in protests and a number of other restrictions in violation of their civil rights. If convicted, the defendants could face up to 8 years in prison for organizing and participating in the protest on September 6, 2015, at the General Prosecutor’s Office.
The members of the Petrenko Groups 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 Federal Government of Germany.
Petrenko on prosecutors’ request: This is political persecution and intimidation as a warning to all political forces
Grigory Petrenko, former MP, honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and leader of the opposition political party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc), commented on the prosecutors’ motion on Friday, June 23, demanding prison sentences of between 4.5 years and 3 years for all participants of the “Petrenko Group” for protesting on September 6, 2015, in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
“This demand of the prosecutors, which is in fact a demand of the regime, is meaningless, totally illegal and absurd. The prosecution has no convincing evidence of our guilt. We are accused of organizing mass riots and participating in them. However, from our point of view, there was no crime. It was a peaceful protest. We protested in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office, we set up tents. In a democratic society, it is only natural that people have the right to protest freely, to express their position, even if it does not fit the wishes of the powerful. We demanded that all those involved in the theft of a billion dollars from the banking system be brought to justice – Sura, Dragutanu, Gurin and others, as well as the ultimate beneficiary – [Moldova’s top oligarch Vlad] Plahotniuc,” said Grigory Petrenko to reporters on Friday, June 23.
According to the ex-deputy, he will not plead guilty. Petrenko said that the prosecutor’s demand for imprisonment “serves as a negative signal, including to [Moldova’s] external partners.”
|Grigory Petrenko speaks to reporters after June 23 hearing.|
According to the leader of the opposition party Our Home is Moldova, the demands of the prosecutors are political persecution and intimidation meant as a warning to all political forces.
“We regard this as political persecution and intimidation of all political forces, of all those who oppose the regime of Plahotniuc. This is a signal to all opposition forces: if you resist, you will be harassed by the courts or even find yourself behind bars. I think that in a democratic and European country, such processes do not have the right to exist,” said Petrenko.
During the course of the June 23 court hearing, prosecutors demanded that Petrenko be sentenced to 4 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for taking part in anti-oligarchy protests organized on September 6, 2015. For the other participants of the protest from the Petrenko Group, the prosecutors demanded three years imprisonment.
The next court session is scheduled for June 28 at 10:00.
Translated by Greg Butterfield