The new Supreme Court session regarding the Nikitin case is scheduled for April 17. Nikitin was informed about the new date by a telegram from the Supreme Court judge Karimov in Moscow Thursday afternoon to his office in St. Petersburg. On March 29 the Supreme Court judges postponed the hearing on request from the General Prosecutor representative just some few minutes after the opening of the hearing. The General Prosecutor Office asked for more time to ‘familiarise’ itself with the verdict reached in the Nikitin case by the City Court of St. Petersburg on December 29 last year.
It was procurator Aleksandr Gutsan in St. Petersburg who wrote the appeal, but when the case was to be heard in the Supreme Court in Moscow last week, a representative of the General Prosecutor turn up in the Court room and said he wanted to take part in the proceedings. No comments were given on why the General Procurators Office wanted to participate. The Supreme Court judges granted the request to postpone the hearing. Last Friday the Nikitin defence team delivered a petition arguing that the surprising delaying of the Supreme Court hearing was a clear violation of the law. The Criminal code says only exceptional cases may be postponed, and then requires that it is the Supreme Court chairman or vice-chairman who prolongs it. The judges who heard the Nikitin case for ten minutes before delaying it were not in such position.
The procurator delivered his appeal after the St. Petersburg City Court hearing ended with a full acquittal of Aleksandr Nikitin. In the appeal he ask for the case to be re-evaluated by another judge in the City Court. The Supreme Court on April 17 will either dismiss the procurator’s appeal, accept it, or even forward the case back to the FSB for additional investigation.
Bellona’s legal advisor, Jon Gauslaa, says that the failure of the Supreme Court last week to end the Nikitin case once and forever left the Russian legal system in limbo. “The appeal logged by the prosecution questioning the sentence of acquittal is completely groundless,” Gauslaa says, adding that the Supreme Court had an easy task – to follow the Russian Constitution and reject the appeal.
Aleksandr Nikitin was very disappointed after the Supreme Court delayed the hearing of his case on March 29. Today, Nikitin hope for the best and is glad the date is settled. “Hopefully I will not go to Moscow for another disappointing decision,” he says.
If the Supreme Court fails to reject the prosecutions appeal Aleksandr Nikitin goes into a new unknown period of spy-charges and harassment from Russia’s Secret Police, the FSB.
The Supreme Court hearing is starting at 10 o’clock Moscow Time, at Ilinka street no. 7, just a few blocks from the Red Square. The first minutes of the court hearing and the final part, when the judges are to read their decision will be open to public. The hearing itself most likely will go behind closed doors.