A court in the Russian city of Murmansk has rejected bail appeals for twoGreenpeace activists and a freelance photographer, keeping them confined in jail ahead of piracy trials.
The three are among 30 people of 18 different nationalities, including six from Britain, who have been charged with “piracy as part of an organised group” after being apprehended on board the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise. Bail requests for the other 27 are expected to be heard this week.
The boat was seized by Russian coastguards last month as it approached the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, an offshore Arctic drilling platform operated by the state energy giant Gazprom. President Vladimir Putin said it was “completely obvious” that the environmentalists were not pirates, but Russia‘s Investigative Committee went ahead with the charges. If convicted, the activists face jail terms of 10 to 15 years.
Courts in Murmansk have remanded all 30 in custody for two months while the charges are prepared. Appeals were filed on Tuesday on behalf of crew member Ekaterina Zaspa, activist Andrei Allakhverdov and freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov, all of whom are Russian citizens.
In the case of Sinyakov, the court was handed a petition signed by hundreds of journalists calling for his release, as well as a bail offer of 1 million roubles (£20,000) and evidence that a hotel room had been booked in his name in Murmansk, ensuring that he would not leave town before the trial. The judge remained unmoved and refused the bail application.
The executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said in a statement: “There can be no justification for the continued detention of activists who did nothing more than express their beliefs through entirely peaceful means. They have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are being held for something nobody thinks they actually did. They are now prisoners of conscience, and as such they are the responsibility of the world.”
source: guardian Uk