After a number of calm days of her authorized staff calling character witnesses on her behalf and arguing for a lenient sentence, Brittney Griner’s subsequent look in Russian court docket is prone to be a bit extra intense.
The choose is anticipated to instantly interrogate her on Wednesday, her lawyer Maria Blagovolina instructed Yahoo Sports activities.
Griner faces as much as 10 years in Russian jail after she flew right into a Moscow airport in February and Russian customs officers allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The WNBA star pleaded guilty in court on July 7, arguing that she didn’t intend to interrupt the legislation and that she inadvertently introduced the vape cartridges into the nation as a result of she packed in a rush.
Consultants anticipate that Griner’s testimony on Wednesday will echo her responsible plea. In a Russian legal trial, it is not uncommon for each the choose and prosecutor to cross-examine the defendant.
Griner was escorted into court in handcuffs on Tuesday carrying a darkish hoodie with the slogan “Black lives for peace” printed on the again. An Related Press photographer captured Griner holding up images of supporters from the courtroom cage that’s used to carry defendants throughout Russian legal trials.
The slow-moving trial continued on Tuesday with Griner’s authorized staff summoning a Russian narcology knowledgeable. Mikhail Tetyushkin, according to reporters who were present in the courtroom, testified that, whereas marijuana is against the law in Russia, it’s used as a medical remedy for athletes in varied nations, together with the USA.
At a earlier listening to this month, Griner’s authorized staff introduced the court docket with an American physician’s letter saying that Griner had been prescribed medical marijuana to assist her address power ache from accidents that she sustained throughout her basketball profession. Protection attorneys have additionally summoned the staff captain and staff director from Griner’s Russian basketball membership to vouch for her character.
Tom Firestone, the previous resident authorized adviser on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, instructed Yahoo Sports activities that Griner’s authorized staff is “doing the best issues beneath the circumstances” however admitted that “whether or not or not it is going to assist is tough to say.” Physician’s notes and character witnesses could not end in a extra lenient sentence for Griner if she is actually extra political pawn than legal defendant.
Griner’s trial must be thought of “fully theater,” mentioned Danielle Gilbert, a Dartmouth College international coverage fellow who makes a speciality of hostage diplomacy. Gilbert contends that the trial is “solely about Russia’s efforts to legitimize holding Griner” whereas Russian officers search to commerce her in a prisoner trade or for another concession from the USA.
Griner’s imprisonment comes at a time of renewed hostility and mistrust between the U.S. and Russia. Relations between the 2 nations are at their lowest level for the reason that Chilly Struggle because of Russia’s assault on Ukraine and the U.S. becoming a member of Western allies in imposing financial sanctions.
The State Division has declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” in Russia since Could and has described negotiating a deal to safe her freedom as a prime precedence. Russian officers have bristled at that classification and have demanded that the U.S. respect the legal guidelines of their nation.
On July 4, Griner despatched President Biden a letter urging him to “please don’t overlook about me and the opposite American detainees.”
“I’m terrified I is likely to be right here without end,” she wrote.
Efforts to barter Griner’s launch could also be difficult by Russia’s obvious asking value in a possible prisoner trade. Russian state media retailers have linked Griner’s case to the destiny of notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who earned the nickname “Merchant of Death” after smuggling military-grade weapons to rogue leaders and rebel teams throughout Africa and past.
Griner’s attorneys have mentioned they count on her trial to conclude by early August. Blagovolina instructed Yahoo Sports activities that she’ll have a greater thought when sentencing will happen after Wednesday’s listening to.