KHIMKI, Russia — The drug trial of American basketball star Brittney Griner in a Russian courtroom centered Tuesday on testimony that hashish, whereas unlawful in Russia, is regarded in different international locations as having professional medicinal use.
Griner has acknowledged that she was carrying vape canisters containing hashish oil when she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport, however she contends that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her baggage inadvertently due to hasty packing.
“We aren’t arguing that Brittney took it right here as a medication. We’re nonetheless saying that she involuntarily introduced it right here as a result of she was in a rush,” protection lawyer Alexander Boykov stated after the session through which a Russian neuropsychologist testified about worldwide use of medicinal hashish.
“The Russian public has to know, and the Russian courtroom within the first place has to know, that it was not used for leisure functions in the US. It was prescribed by a health care provider,” he stated.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who performs for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted. The medical testimony and Griner’s admission that she had the canisters is geared toward bringing her a gentle sentence.
“We’ve got quite a lot of mitigating components. So we do hope that the courtroom will take it into consideration. And the courts in Russia, in reality, have very broad discretion with regard to the sentence,” stated Maria Blagovolina, one other of Griner’s legal professionals.
The trial of the two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury standout started July 1 however solely 5 classes have been held, some them lasting solely about an hour.
The slow-moving trial and Griner’s 5 months of detention have raised robust criticism amongst teammates and supporters in the US, which has formally declared her to be “wrongfully detained,” a designation sharply rejected by Russian officials.
Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. Embassy’s cost d’affaires, attended Tuesday’s courtroom session. Griner “confirms that she is doing okay and in addition to may be anticipated beneath these circumstances,” she informed reporters.
Griner was arrested in February amid excessive U.S.-Moscow tensions forward of Russia sending troops into Ukraine later that month. Some supporters contend she is being held in Russia as a pawn, presumably for a prisoner swap. American soccer notable Megan Rapinoe final week stated “she’s being held as a political prisoner, clearly.”
The Russian Overseas Ministry final week lashed out on the U.S. competition that Griner is being wrongfully detained and stated Russian legal guidelines must be revered.
“If a U.S. citizen was taken in reference to the truth that she was smuggling medication, and she or he doesn’t deny this, then this must be commensurate with our Russian native legal guidelines, and never with these adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated.
“If medication are legalized in the US, in plenty of states, and that is completed for a very long time and now the entire nation will develop into drug-addicted, this doesn’t imply that each one different international locations are following the identical path,” she added.
Russian media have speculated that Griner might be exchanged for distinguished Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who’s imprisoned in the US, and that Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage, may additionally determine in an change.
U.S. officers haven’t commented on the prospects for such a commerce. Russian officers have stated no change might be mentioned till the conclusion of the authorized proceedings in opposition to Griner. It’s unclear how lengthy the trial will final, however a courtroom has approved Griner’s detention till Dec. 20.
Earlier trial classes have included character-witness testimony from the director and captain of the Russian crew that Griner performed for within the low season, together with written testimony together with a health care provider’s letter saying he had approved her to make use of hashish for ache therapy.