Pasko-verdict on December 18?

Publish date: December 5, 2001

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

Prosecutor Kondakov had no card hidden up his sleeve when the Pacific Fleet Court on December 3 discussed the conclusion of the investigative part of the Pasko-trial. Thus, the end of the trial is closing in.

On November 29, the previously so passive prosecutor Aleksandr Kondakov asked for – and got – three days in order to prepare a statement to the Court. This led to some speculations regarding what he was up to. Some rumours even suggested that he would demand that the case should be sent for additional investigation.

No card up his sleeve
It turned out that Mr. Kondakov did not have the nerve to play that kind of ‘ace’. In stead he asked for some more documents to be attached to the case file. Two documents were related to Pasko’s employment in the navy, while the others were a couple of faxes sent by Japanese journalist Tadashi Okani to the Japanese consulate in Vladivostok regarding Pasko’s visit to Japan in 1997.

The prosecutor, who apparently considers the fact that Pasko visited Japan when being employed by the navy, as an indisputable proof for his ‘criminal activity’, asked whether Pasko would accept this or not. – When I replied ‘go ahead’ and pointed out that I never had refused that I visited Japan, the prosecutor became as silent as a partisan, told Pasko.

The defence on its hand requested that an openly published reference book regarding Russian submarines should be attached to the case files, as this book gives detailed descriptions of the ‘secrets’ Pasko is accused of having disclosed about discarded submarines.

Trial to end on December 18?
Pasko also made a statement in Court regarding the closing of the investigative part of the trial. – The charges against me are totally incomprehensible, but I fear that the FSB will use all means to put the Court under pressure so that its own bacon can be saved, he said.

The investigative part of the trial is expected to be formally concluded on December 7. The prosecutor will then be given the floor in order to perform his closing speech. Pasko’s defence team will make its closing speech on December 10.

The defence will most likely put more effort into it than the prosecutor, who probably will be content with reading the indictment. Although the presumption of innocence is a part of the Russian Constitution (Article 49), Russia’s legal system is still very much of the kind that the burden of proof lies with the accused, who has to prove his innocence far beyond reasonable doubt, and not on the prosecution.

It is reason to believe that the Court will announce its verdict on December 17 or 18.

Journalist Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997 on charges of espionage on behalf of the Japanese TV-channel NHK. He was acquitted 20 months later, 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 Russian Military Supreme Court sent the case back for a re-trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The re-trial has been going on since July 11, 2001.