“I remained at liberty and I am thankful to the court for its fair decision. Besides, I want to express special thanks to the people who were participating in my life, without whom such court decision would not be possible. I thank the Justice Makers, the public representative L. Solovyeva, the defence lawyer appointed by law, the human rights defenders and the lawyers!
Thank you, Justice Makers!”
Egor (not his real name), Russia, 2013
Thanks to our common efforts with the JusticeMakers community and to the wonderful project of Larissa Solovyeva, our 2012 JusticeMakers Fellow in Russia, Egor has been released from eight years of imprisonment. The release of Egor was made possible thanks to the joint efforts of L. Solovyeva, a defence lawyer and IBJ’s JusticeMaker in Kaliningrad, who was acting under the guidance of the defence lawyer, A. Koss and the human rights defender, E. Polozkov.
It all started on March 5, 2011 when a seriously ill drug addict, Egor was arrested after buying heroin. He was charged with five counts of attempt of sale of drugs in “a large amount” committed by a group of people. On March 6, 2013 Egor was sentenced, after having confessed crimes in detention while having withdrawal syndrome.
The prosecutor asked to sentence him to eight years imprisonment in a penal colony of a special regime.
The defender, Larissa Solovyeva managed to protect the right of Egor to life, preserve his freedom and to protect his right to a fair trial. She successfully brought the attention of the court to the following facts:
– Existing brutal practices included manipulation, involving the health condition of seriously ill and drug-addicted people while they experience withdrawal syndrome in order to extract a necessary testimony from them. Police employ duress to convince the accused to cooperate with them by participating in the “controlled purchase of drugs” and to commit perjury by promising a pre trial release.
– Eight years imprisonment with the disease suffered by the accused is de facto capital punishment.
– Consequently, the ill person who perjured himself in order to survive could get a death penalty for a crime he did not commit.
– The police officers have not properly performed their tasks. They did not reveal the sources of drug supply and the buyers, and thus did not stop a criminal activity. Instead, they initiated its continuation.
– The co-accused did not have the bag of drugs.
She also drew the Court’s attention on the fact that two years spent between freedom and prison is a punishment on itself. She asked the court to show leniency considering the length of her client’s pre-trial detention.
The Court finally changed the qualification of his crime from ‘sale of drugs’ to ‘aiding a drug purchase’. The court established that three out of the five counts of drug purchase had improper evidence. Also, the Court recognized the right of Egor to rehabilitation. He was sentenced with two years imprisonment in a colony of a severe regime, but was exempted from the punishment due to the expiry of the limitation period because March 5, 2013 marked two years since the day of committing the crime.