The latest hearing in the case of Yury Dmitriev took place on Wednesday 25 October although all had been warned on Tuesday that there would be no judicial hearing the next day. The court decided that the hearing would resume on Wednesday, 29 November 2017. The reason for this postponement was that the expert assessment of the photos taken of Yury Dmitriev's adopted daughter was not yet ready.
“The firm providing the assessment requested yet another month,” said Dmitriev’s defence attorney Victor Anufriev. “I expect that they had no experts of their own – it’s not their field of activity – and so they tried to find a way out by bringing in someone to do the job for them. It’s a high-profile case. It cannot be ruled out that they will find it quite complicated to locate a normal, sensible and law-abiding expert who is prepared to take on this task and arrive at the desired result.”
At each hearing of the historian’s case a large group of supporters come to the courthouse: his relatives, friends and colleagues. Today, for the first time, only court bailiffs stood outside the entrance to the courtroom, there was no security presence. There were also Norwegian journalists who had come to Karelia to make a report about Yury Dmitriev.
According to Anufriev, he received a phone call from the court yesterday, informing him that the hearing scheduled for 25 October would be postponed. The next morning the lawyer went to the detention centre where his client is being held only to learn that the hearing had in fact taken place. Out-of-town friends of Dmitriev who come to each of the hearings returned their rail tickets for refund after hearing the day before that the hearing was postponed.
The Supreme Court of Karelia has extended Yury Dmitriev’s preventative custody until 27 January 2018.
Dmitriev was arrested at his flat on Friday, 13 December 2016 and accused of making pornographic images of his adopted daughter. His defence attorney and the defence experts who testified in court believe the photos to be part of a journal monitoring the girl’s health and have nothing in common with pornography.
The trial at the Petrozavodsk City Court began on 1 June this year. Yury Dmitriev was charged with three criminal offences. Apart from the production of pornographic materials depicting minors, he was also charged under Articles 135 (“Perverted non-violent actions with a minor”) and 222 of the RF Criminal Code (“Unlawful possession of a firearm”). Every hearing since then has been held behind closed doors because the case concerns a minor.
On 15 September Judge Marina Nosova requested a new expert assessment from an organisation in St Petersburg of nine of the 114 photographs taken of his daughter by Dmitriev. The choice of this body, the “Federal Department for Independent Forensic Assessment”, was not acceptable to the defence attorney Victor Anufriev. In early October he announced that he would make a formal objection to this decision; the judge denied his petition.
The Federal Department for Independent Forensic Assessment is a commercial organisation with a statutory capital of 10,000 roubles. Mr Anufriev was unable to find a single employee of the firm. He insists that by law the court cannot entrust a commercial form with a forensic assessment. He also expressed concern that the identity of the experts invited to carry out the new assessment remains unknown.
Anna Yarovaya, «7x7»
Translation – John Crowfoot (US English)