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One of Jehovah’s Witnesses declared innocent in historic criminal case in Russia

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One of Jehovah’s Witnesses declared innocent in historic criminal case in Russia

by JW-Media.org | For Immediate Release | April 14, 2011 | (Russian)

GORNO-ALTAYSK, Russia—The Gorno-Altaysk City Court just concluded a trial with profound implications for freedom of expression and religious belief in Russia. Judge Marina Sokolovskaya has issued a not-guilty verdict in the criminal case against Aleksandr Kalistratov, who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The case was the first of its kind in Russia. Mr. Kalistratov was charged with inciting religious hatred or enmity; however, not one of the 71 witnesses in the case could testify that Kalistratov was guilty. Additionally, no evidence was produced during the six-month trial that substantiated the charge. Viktor Zhenkov, one of Mr. Kalistratov’s defense attorneys, stated: “It is unmistakably clear that Aleksandr Kalistratov committed no crime. Today’s ruling proves that the charges against Kalistratov and other Jehovah’s Witnesses in Gorno-Altaysk are totally without proper basis. These charges are really a misapplication of the extremist law.”

When asked for his reaction to the verdict, Mr. Kalistratov responded: “I am grateful for the courageous stand that the judge took in issuing such a decision. I just hope that the ruling will be helpful to many of my fellow believers who continue to be prosecuted in Russia. It would be sad for other innocent Russian citizens to be subjected to illegal surveillance merely out of religious intolerance.”

More than 7,500,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in over 230 lands have been watching the developments in this case with keen interest. “Our fellow worshippers around the world and other observers of this case are rejoicing that the court confirmed that Kalistratov is innocent,” states Vasily Kalin, Chairman of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. “This victory is a major step forward in the protection of freedom of worship.”

Today’s verdict is in harmony with the unanimous judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on June 10, 2010, which noted that Russian courts had clearly violated the rights of the Moscow Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That judgment states that the Russian government “has a legal obligation . . . to put an end to the violation found by the Court and to redress as far as possible the effects.”

Article Source: JW-Media.org

We cannot incite if we are not in sight.___Heb.10:24,25

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