WASHINGTON -- Expert testimony was offered by prosecution witnesses during today’s session in the trial of Crimean journalist and RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena, which convened in Simferopol at the Zheleznodorozhnyy District Court. The experts, however, were unable to offer testimony that would directly show evidence in support of the charge that an article Semena wrote for RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities website contained calls for the violation of Russia’s territorial integrity.
FSB employee Olga Ivanova told the court that her “theoretical examination” of the article found ”indirect” evidence of calls to violate territorial integrity of Russia of such calls. During cross-examination, however, Ivanova was unable to show direct evidence that the article contained such calls.
In addition to Ivanova, the court questioned translator Vakhtang Karamanyan, who, according to Semena’s lawyer Alexander Popkov, actually confirmed the lack of legal force in the translation of materials of the case, which the investigation ordered from Karamanyan.
At the end of the hearing, the court attached extracts from the UN Charter and the resolution of the UN General Assembly on the territorial integrity of Ukraine to materials of the case. According to Semena’s lawyer, these documents show that it is not possible to accuse Semena of calling for the violation of Russia’s territorial integrity, as Crimea is not recognized as Russian territory.
At the same time, the court ruled that statements in court by witnesses who asserted that they did not say the words that investigators wrote into interrogation protocols were inadmissible as evidence. The court promised to review this ruling before making a final decision.
The court also rejected a defense motion to question in closed session FSB officer Ilya Khomenko, who could not explain why the case file contained records obtained before the court had formally approved a request for surveillance of Semena.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 18. The defense has announced that it will call its witnesses at this session, including the editor-in-chief of the Crimea.Realities website, Volodymyr Prytula.