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23 May, 2008 09:45

Russian Duma protests over Estonian war hero trial

Russia's State Duma has expressed its concerns over the trial in Estonia of a former Soviet war hero, Arnold Meri. Russian deputies plan to petition the European Council and the OSCE to ask them to condemn the trial, Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov says.

88-year-old Meri is accused of involvement in the mass deportation of Estonian nationals in 1949 by the Soviet authorities.

Estonian law has no statute of limitation on such crimes.

If convicted, Meri could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Meanwhile, Meri says the accusations against him are unjust. He admits he took part in deportations, but says his role was to ensure their lawfulness.

“We had to make sure that the rights of those deported were not violated, that there was no abuse, no mistreatment,” Arnold Meri notes.