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HomeNewsWNBA star Brittney Griner to testify this week in Russian trial

WNBA star Brittney Griner to testify this week in Russian trial


RIGA, Latvia — WNBA star Brittney Griner faces one other nerve-racking week in her Moscow trial on drug fees, together with her testimony and cross-examination by the prosecution anticipated Wednesday.

The Phoenix Mercury participant returned to courtroom Tuesday, the place her protection crew continued to current its case for leniency after she pleaded responsible to the fees, which carry a possible sentence of as much as 10 years in jail.

Griner carrying a black hoodie, spoke briefly to U.S. Embassy employees earlier than the trial recommenced. She held up {a photograph} of supporters from the courtroom cage which is used to safe defendants in Russian courtroom trials.

Deputy chief of mission on the U.S. Embassy, Elizabeth Rood, mentioned afterward that Griner confirmed “that she is doing OK and is in addition to will be anticipated underneath the circumstances.”

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Griner’s authorized crew known as a drug skilled who testified that hashish was used as medical remedy for athletes in numerous international locations together with the USA. The protection introduced proof that Griner had examined unfavourable for marijuana.

Maria Blagovolina a companion at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Companions regulation agency mentioned after the listening to that Griner had used hashish oil for medicinal not leisure functions.

The listening to was suspended after a consular official from U.S. Embassy delegation supporting Griner fainted as a result of warmth within the courtroom. Rood later informed journalists that the official was fantastic.

Griner has been in custody since mid-February, after vape cartridges containing hashish oil had been present in her baggage at Sheremetyevo Worldwide Airport. She was arrested per week earlier than the invasion of Ukraine, when relations between the USA and Russia had been strained. The Kremlin has rejected U.S. claims that she is being wrongfully held.

Griner pleaded responsible to the fees — which means she faces sure conviction — however she has informed the courtroom she didn’t intend to interrupt Russian regulation, explaining she was in a rush when she packed her baggage for Moscow.

The trial has widened the gulf between Washington and Moscow and intensified anti-American sentiment in Russia. State tv spews out aggressive propaganda each day, claiming that the USA provoked Russia’s battle in opposition to Ukraine as a part of a plot to dismember the nation and gobble up its sources.

However Griner does have a effectively of sympathy in Yekaterinburg, the Urals metropolis the place she starred for the native crew UMMC Yekaterinburg in a Russian league that pays People beneficiant salaries to play through the WNBA offseason.

UMMC Yekaterinburg’s 1,000-member fan group on VKontakte, or VK, Russia’s model of Fb, principally helps Griner.

“I hope all ends effectively for Brittney and she will return to her household,” wrote a fan named Tatyana underneath a bunch submit that quoted crew Director Maksim Ryabkov’s character testimony on the trial earlier this month.

“A narrative that was blown out of proportion. Let the athlete go,” commented Nadezhda Maiga underneath a latest photograph picturing Griner in a courtroom cage.

However some see the cost as justified provided that marijuana is prohibited in Russia.

“The truth that she was arrested is right, however I feel to present her 5 years for that’s too harsh as a result of she didn’t deliver it to promote, however for herself,” wrote one other VK consumer, Dmitry Butakov.

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Final week, the protection introduced medical certificates indicating that Griner suffers from persistent ache and was prescribed medical hashish by an Arizona physician.

After her testimony and cross-examination this week, the protection will relaxation its case.

It’s not clear when the decision and sentence will likely be handed down. Within the last levels of the case, the prosecutor and protection will sum up their circumstances, and the prosecutor will spell out what punishment the state is searching for. Griner will likely be given a “last phrase” — the defendant’s final likelihood to handle the courtroom in regards to the fees.

Some People have voiced concern that an brazenly homosexual Black girl may face authorized bias in a rustic with a protracted historical past of racism and discrimination in opposition to the LGBTQ group.

Trevor Reed, a former Marine lately free of a Russian jail in a prisoner change in April, mentioned final month at a rally in Griner’s assist that she is “in quite a lot of methods in a worse place” than he was “as a result of Brittney is African American.”

With political and diplomatic ties between Washington and Moscow in a deep freeze, sports activities and cultural ties are additionally fraying, and it appears unlikely that WNBA gamers will proceed to play in Russia. Griner’s American teammates in Yekaterinburg — Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Jonquel Jone — flew house after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The U.S. State Division has warned People to not journey to Russia.

The White Home says that Griner is being held in “insupportable circumstances” and it’ll do all it might to have her launched with different wrongfully detained prisoners, together with Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine arrested in 2018, convicted of spying in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in jail. He denies the fees, saying he was arrange.

Russian officers have condemned the general public strain in the USA for Griner’s launch whereas hinting that Russia could also be keen at hand her over in a prisoner swap — however solely after the trial is accomplished.

Nevertheless, Moscow’s phrases could also be troublesome for Washington to simply accept: Media hypothesis is rising a few doable change involving Russian arms seller Viktor Bout, who’s at the moment serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and promoting weapons to terrorists.

The White Home and State Division have mentioned that liberating Griner and different wrongfully held People is their highest precedence.

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.



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