Defence demands full acquittal

Publish date: December 17, 2001

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

A confident defence-team gave its closing speech in the Pasko-case today. - There is no crime and thus, the Court has no other option than to acquit Pasko, was its message.

Today’s session started with a row between the prosecutor and the defence. Its subject was whether the defence should be allowed to give its closing speech in open court or not.

Behind closed doors

Prosecutor Aleksandr Kondakov argued that state secrets could be disclosed since the defence was going to refer to decree 055:96 of the Ministry of Defence. Not only the content, but also the very existence of the said decree, is considered to be state secrets, said Kondakov.

The defence pointed out that the existence of the decree, which is the basis for the charges against Pasko, is well known and said that it would not disclose any of its content. Still, the Court ruled in the prosecutor’s favour.

Decree 055:96 is a secret normative act. On November 6, 2001 the Russian Supreme Court declared it as “illegal and invalid” since it had not been registered in accordance with Russian law. For formal reasons the Court’s verdict is limited to 10 provisions of the decree, but the grounds of the judgment also apply to its remaining 700 provisions. Nevertheless, the prosecutor still insists to use the decree.

Charges destroyed

The defence demanded a full acquittal. — No crime has taken place, said Ivan Pavlov, and pointed to the fact that the prosecutor himself has reduced the charges against Pasko for having handed over state secrets to the Japanese side to almost nothing. — By taking this step, Kondakov has destroyed most of his case, said Pavlov in an interview with NTV.

The closing speech of the defence may have given the charges their final coup de grâce. In addition to the prosecution’s use of the illegal decree 055:96 as the normative basis for the charges, the defence focused on the fact that it is not even close to prove that Pasko collected the disputed information of the case with the intention to transfer it to Japan. Moreover, none of it contains state secrets according to the prevailing legislation.

Thus, the conditions for convicting Pasko for espionage under article 275 of the Penal Code are clearly not present, concluded the defence. It also pointed out that most of the ‘evidence’ had been illegally collected, so that it in any case should be disqualified according to Article 50 (2) of the Russian Constitution.

The end is near

On December 18, Pasko will state his last words to the Court. Its three judges are also expected to schedule the date for the announcement of the verdict.


Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997 and charged with espionage on behalf of the Japanese TV-channel NHK. He was acquitted in July 1999, but convicted of ‘abuse of official authority’ and freed under an amnesty. Seeking a full acquittal, Pasko appealed, but so did the prosecution, insisting he was a spy. On November 21, 2000 the Supreme Court sent the case back for a re-trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The re-trial started on July 11, 2001. It may be concluded some time between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.