Moldova: Petrenko Group activists given suspended sentences, plan appeal

 Petrenko on guilty verdict: Court follows Plahotniuc’s orders exactly 

Chisinau, Moldova, June 28: Grigory Petrenko, former parliamentary deputy and leader of the opposition party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc), commented on the conviction and suspended sentences handed down to members of the so-called “Petrenko Group” of between 4.5 and 3 years imprisonment, and declared the decision of the court unlawful.

“We do not agree with the verdict. It is illegal and we will appeal against it in the Appeals Court. Today, the judges once again proved that they follow [oligarch Vlad] Plahotniuc’s orders exactly. There was not a single piece of evidence in favor of our guilt,” Petrenko said.

Red Bloc leader Grigory Petrenko speaks to reporters after sentencing on June 28.

At the same time, according to the former deputy, “The verdict is very harsh, and this is the first time that citizens have been sentenced for rioting in the Republic of Moldova.

“Although the position of the Council of Europe and PACE is well-known, as well as the conclusion of the U.S. State Department, which recognized us as political prisoners, the judges decided to comply with Plahotniuc’s orders. I am sure that this is a personal reprisal by Plahotniuc,” Petrenko said.

According to him, “Plahotniuc has made another serious mistake” and “the international community there will surely have a tough response to this illegal decision.”

Petrenko said, “We will appeal the decision in the Appeals Court, but since the justice system has been hijacked in our country, there is little chance of success. We will also appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. I think we will achieve a ruling in the ECHR, which, unfortunately, will again condemn Moldova for violating human rights.”

On Wednesday, June 28, the judges of the Riscani sector court in Chisinau sentenced the participants of the so-called “Petrenko Group” to between 4.5 and 3 years of imprisonment, the sentence conditionally suspended, with probation and payment of fines.

During this time, the members of the so-called “Petrenko Group” have no right to change their places of residence or location without the prior consent of the court.

In addition, the court decided to retain judicial control until the verdict is final, and this implies a continued ban on participation in protests and travel outside the Republic of Moldova.

The verdict is not final and can be appealed in the Chisinau Court of Appeal.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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