On september 6, the Pacific Fleet Court announced the conclusion of the handwriting experts that were summoned to Court on September 3. Their conclusion was favourable for Pasko's defence.
The handwriting experts were called in to evaluate whether two signatures in the protocol from the search of Pasko’s flat in November 1997 were falsified or not. At the first Pasko-trial in 1999 two of the witnesses that apparently had signed the search protocol claimed that their signatures had been falsified. This time, one of them said that the signature in the protocol was his and thus, an expert evaluation of their handwriting had to be carried out.
After both witnesses had given their signatures in Court, the experts compared these signatures with the ones in the protocol, and their conclusion was clear: The signatures in the protocol of the search and the signatures that were given in court, are not made by the same persons.
– This confirms that the signatures in the protocol were falsified, said defender Ivan Pavlov. We will use the expert-conclusion as one of our arguments for substantiating that the protocol from the search must be disqualified as evidence and that the search was carried out illegally.
SVR appears at the stage
The Court has recently also evaluated various documents attached to the case file in which the Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) gives a general analysis over how Japanese intelligence services work. The documents also mention that several of the persons involved in the Pasko-case as witnesses or in other ways have connection with these services.
– This is only allegations, said Ivan Pavlov. We drew the Court’s attention to the fact that loose and unsubstantiated allegations hinting that this or that person works for foreign intelligence, by no means can be considered as evidence in a criminal case. The attorney also said that the defence had pointed out that there were no traces in the case files of requests from the FSB to the SVR asking for the said materials. – It is a mystery how these documents got into the case files, and we hope that the Court will give an adequate evalution of this, he said.
Trial to continue well into October
On September 10, some of the investigators that took part in the search of Pasko’s flat and the two witnesses whose signatures were falisified, will be questioned in Court. – After this we will have finished most of the witness-interrogations and the evalution of the case documents, said Ivan Pavlov. The expert evaluation of whether there are state secrets or not in the materials that allegedly were confiscated at Pasko’s flat, and the audio-expertise of the tappings of Pasko’s telephone do however still remain. The latter seem to be dragging out and thus, we will probably not see a verdict before the end of October, he said.
Journalist Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 21, 1997 on charges of espionage on behalf of the Japanese TV-station ‘NHK’. He was acquitted of espionage in July 1999, but found guilty of abuse of office and freed under a general amnesty. Seeking a full acquittal, Pasko appealed the verdict, but so did the prosecution, insisting he was a spy. The Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court cancelled the verdict in November 2000, and sent the case back to Vladivostok for a re-trial. After a number of postponements the re-trial started on July 11, 2001.