Legal foot-dragging legalised

Publish date: June 1, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Court rules in favour of prosecution: Nikitin defence appeal turned down.

St. Petersburg Dzerzhinsky District Court today turned down a complaint lodged by the Nikitin defence team on April 19. The defence appealed the prolongation of investigation of Nikitin’s case granted by the General Prosecutor Office to the Russian Security Police (FSB) on 11 March for an additional period of three months, until 11 July. The defence questioned as well the legality of prolonged city arrest imposed on Aleksandr Nikitin.

During a two-day court session last week the defence team listed a number of provisions that clearly illustrated that to prolong the investigative period by three months would violate both the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The court finds no grounds to meet the complaint," said the court resolution revealed at the end of session today.

Nikitin is accused of high treason and divulging state secrets for co-authoring a Bellona report on radiation hazards in the Russian Northern Fleet. His three-and-a-half-year wait for justice did not end in the Russian Federation’s Supreme Court in February. The court sent Nikitin’s case back to the security police (FSB) for further investigation.

"We shall appeal the decision by the District Court further up to the City Court of St. Petersburg," Aleksandr Nikitin says wearily. "They [the prosecution] have to learn that we shall appeal each step they make. Otherwise it will last for ever," Nikitin adds.

The report, where Nikitin revealed the alleged state secrets, is currently under expert evaluation at the 8th Directorate of Russian Defence Ministry HQ in Moscow. This is the fourth evaluation since the case was launched in October 1995. The evaluation will be followed by a new indictment due by 11 July, given the Russian Security Police investigators do not request another prolongation.

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