Court orders retrial for Russian rights activist, child porn probe resumed
A court in the North Russian region of Karelia has canceled the sentence for human rights activist Yuri Dmitriyev, recently acquitted of making child porn and ordered a new investigation into the case.
Dmitriyev’s lawyer, Viktor Anufriyev, broke the news to the media, adding that the court also canceled the sentence, of two and a half years under police supervision, given to his client for illegal possession of firearms parts.
“The court has canceled both the acquittal and the conviction. The case was sent for a retrial to the Petrozavodsk City Court,” the lawyer told the RBC news agency. The court also ordered that Dmitriyev must remain under travel ban for the time of the new investigation.
In a more emotional comment with the Petrozavodsk newspaper, Anufriyev also shared his suspicion that the court decision was caused by someone’s “influence.”
“My forecast that they will invent some new abomination has proved a hundred percent true. And they have lowly left it for the very last stage. I have not expected this to be performed in such a Jesuitical way,” he said.
However, in the same interview, the lawyer revealed that the decision to cancel the court rulings had been made after looking into a fresh report from a forensic psychologist which contained some “new circumstances” disclosed during a new examination of Yuri Dmitriyev’s adopted daughter.
Yuri Dmitriyev is the head of the Karelian branch of the Russian NGO Memorial, that deals mainly with the history of Stalinist purges.
Dmitriyev was initially detained in late 2016 and charged with making child pornography and corrupting his underage adopted daughter. The charges were based on the anonymous letter that claimed that between 2008 and 2015 the activist had repeatedly photographed the girl naked. The activist was then put in pre-trial custody, where he spent 13 months.
The activist, who was 60 at the time of his detention, pleaded not guilty and said that, although he did make the photos, his purpose was completely innocent – he wanted to monitor the girl’s physical condition and have proof that her health was not deteriorating in case the local family attempted to take the girl away on these grounds.
Dmitriyev also insisted that the case against him was an alleged attempt by regional officials to punish him for uncovering the history of mass executions and other totalitarian crimes committed in Karelia during Joseph Stalin’s rule.
In January this year, forensic experts from Moscow officially recognized Dmitriyev as sane, not a pedophile and said his photographs were not pornographic. He was then released from pre-trial custody and put under a travel ban.
In April, Dmitriyev was acquitted of creating child pornography, but received a minor sentence for illegal possession of firearms parts – when investigators searched his home they found an old sawn-off rifle which was described during the case as “basic firearms parts.” Illegal possession of such items is an offense in Russia and the court sentenced Dmitriyev to two and a half years under police supervision.
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