Short first day in court

Publish date: November 23, 1999

Written by: Runar Forseth

The first day in court lasted less than two hours. Including a 20 minutes recess.

The mood among those assembled in the courtroom, over 100 in number and including several TV teams, seemed a lot more relaxed than one year ago. With only a short delay, Judge Sergey Y. Golets – the same as last year – opened the session by telling that this was the second time his court hears the Nikitin Case. According to procedure, those parts of the proceedings that were carried out the first time will be repeated now.

Illegal gathering of evidence

Chief defender Yury Schmidt pointed out that several of the evidence presented in the indictment had been gathered in wrongful ways. He did not ask for any changes to procedure for this reason, but asked the Court to take this fact into consideration.

Schmidt also said that the indictment is confusing several versions of the report, these being at least one printed pre-release, one copy from a none-protocolled floppydisk, and the official release of the printed report. While this leads to a general confusion when page numbers are referred to, the floppy version should be considered non-existent, due to its not having been duly protocolled.

Surprise move by important witness


The defence team was temporarily taken aback, when retired Admiral Chernov, summoned to witness later in the court proceedings, offered himself as a public defender to join in with Nikitin’s councel. Dressed in uniform and representing a group of retired naval officers, Chernov’s surprising move did show that Nikitin has strong support even within the ranks his earlier naval colleagues. Both Nikitin and Schmidt rejected the proposal, though, considering the Admiral’s testimonial as witness as more important. This situation led to the early break, and was resolved just before the court recessed for the day. Chernov will not act as co-defender, and may therefor still be a witness.

There was not given any signals as to how long the proceedings will last. But, starting tomorrow, the doors will be closed to the public while the court in detail compares the data on various submarines within the report to those already publically available. Golets estimated that this process will last for seven days in court.The proceedings are generally expected to last some two weeks, to be followed by a one week pause and a final resolution some time around the 12th of December. As of now, though, these are only qualified speculations.

Watch this space for further updates on today’s proceedings, based on our in-court notes. (Problems with our communications have locked those notes incide an Ericsson CE handheld for the time being).