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Amnesty International on the sentencing of Mikhail Kosenko

9 October 2013 

Source: (info)
On Tuesday, 8 October, Amnesty International issued a statement on the sentencing of Mikhail Kosenko: “Today’s decision of a Moscow court to send Mikhail Kosenko to forcible treatment in a psychiatric institution is an abhorrent return to the Soviet-era practices used to silence dissent.”

“The compulsory placement of Mikhail Kosenko in a psychiatric clinic serves as one of the worst examples from the Soviet past, when dissidents languished in psychiatric hospitals where they were treated as if they were mentally ill just because they said what they believed,” said Sergei Nikitin, head of the Moscow office of Amnesty International. “Mikhail Kosenko is a prisoner of conscience who ended up behind bars for peacefully using his right to protest. He should be released at once.”

Mikhail Kosenko was arrested after he took part in protests on Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 which grew into a conflict with the police. He was accused of taking part in mass riots and using force against representatives of authority.

While the court ruling in his case was being announced, there were chants of “Freedom for Mikhail” from the people who gathered on the street outside the court. It is reported that at least eight of them were unlawfully detained.

“Сompulsory psychiatric treatment should be used only in cases of serious mental illness, when there is a possibility that the person may cause direct and inevitable harm to himself or to others,” said Sergei Nikitin.

“The case of Mikhail Kosenko is completely different. He was sent for compulsory treatment after the judge refused to allow an independent assessment of his health to be conducted. This is a violation of the procedure of fair trial,” he stressed.

The court ruling means that Mikhail Kosenko may be denied freedom for an indefinite period of time. He will not come under any amnesty which his co-defendants in the so-called ‘Bolotnaya case’ may be eligible.

The sentence was demanded by the prosecution, which alleged that Mikhail Kosenko is dangerous to himself and to others. This demand was based on the conclusions of a medical examination, conducted at the request of the prosecution and with regard to the assertion by the prosecution that the criminal charges against him had been proven.

Amnesty International was present at the court hearings of the case of Mikhail Kosenko and came to the conclusion that the prosecution could not prove his guilt.

Moreover, the basis of evidence, including video recordings and eyewitness statements, completely disproves all the charges brought against him.

The human rights organization is very concerned about the use of police officers as the main witnesses and points out the contradictions in the testimony presented to the court.

Mikhail Kosenko previously underwent treatment for mental illness but he has never required to undergo compulsory treatment in the past, and he was not considered to be a threat to himself or society.

“This was a terribly unfair ruling by the court, and a viciously cruel punishment for a peaceful demonstrator. The majority of his co-defendants are under investigation or on trial and for the time being can only ask themselves how far this cruel parody of justice will go,” Sergei Nikitin concluded.