Russian justice on Tuesday rejected the appeal of Brittney Griner, the American player, sentenced in Russia to nine years in prison for cannabis trafficking, in a context of very strong tensions between Moscow and Washington. Three judges were going to decide the fate of Griner (32), considered one of the best players in the world.
Dressed in a red and black checkered shirt, the latter participated by videoconference in the hearing at a court in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. During this appeal trial, she effectively remained detained in a penitentiary center near the capital.
Geopolitical sphere, after the war in Ukraine
Brittney Griner was arrested in February in the Russian capital, in possession of a vaporizer containing cannabis-based liquid. While she admitted to possessing this substance, however, she claimed to have inadvertently brought it to Russia and used it legally in the United States as a pain reliever. The American had gone to Russia to play during the WNBA offseason.
Griner’s case acquired geopolitical significance in the context of the crisis between Russia and the United States, linked to the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Washington has repeatedly claimed to have made an offer for Brittney Griner (also a former US soldier) to be released.
For the prosecutor, the sentence is “fair”
According to diplomatic sources, a possible exchange could involve Griner and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, detained in the United States. Elizabeth Rood, the American charge d’affaires in Moscow, was present during the appeal hearing.
On Tuesday, the prosecutor said the nine-year prison sentence imposed on the American player was ” single “In contrast, one of Brittney Griner’s lawyers claimed that the first sentence verdict had been excessive.” This does not correspond to the seriousness of the crime.Maria Blagovolina said. Nine years in prison contradicts judicial practice. There was no intent in his actions. […] The substance was used for medical purposes. Requests have been made for acquittal or sentence reduction.
” No judge, with his hand on his heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence complies with Russian criminal law. “said Alexander Boykov, another lawyer for the player. The latter listed what he said were procedural flaws in his client’s conviction and said that ” The severity and cruelty of Griner’s sentence shocked people around the world. “.
Brittney Griner also spoke. She urged the judges to reduce her sentence, saying her detention and her trial had been stressful. ” People who committed more serious crimes received less than what they gave me “, she added. Griner again apologized and asked the court to consider the fact that she had pleaded guilty. But she and her lawyers were ultimately not heard.
The United States raises its voice
A few minutes after the announcement of the rejection of the appeal of the double Olympic medalist, the White House national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, decided to react. According to him, Brittney Griner is the subject of legal proceedings ” they can “.
” President Biden has been very clear that Brittney must be released immediately. “, he declared. Before adding that he was sorry that she continued to be ” wrongfully imprisoned, under unacceptable circumstances, after having to endure yet another bogus legal proceeding today “.
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