Photo: Dennis Christensen
The Court Will Decide on Dennis Christensen's Parole on June 23. Pressure on the Believer Continues in the ColonyOryol Region
On June 23, 2020, Judge of the Lgov district court of Kursk region Galina Petlitsa will consider the issue of early release of the Danish citizen Dennis Christensen, one of Jehovah's Witness, convicted for his faith for 6 years in prison. There are no legal grounds for refusal to release a believer, says Christensen's defense.
"There is no objective reason to prevent the judge from deciding in Christensen's favor. Dennis meets all the requirements to be released on parole: he served more than half of his sentence, he has exemplary behavior in the colony. Although the administration imposed penalties on him, the prosecutor found them unjustified and illegal. So we are optimistic," said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a spokesman for the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.
According to Dennis Christensen's lawyer, his mood is positive, despite some health problems and attempts of the administration to exert pressure. "Dennis has serious illnesses, due to which the doctor banned him from physical labor, but the colony staff regularly try to force him to perform those types of work that would cause him physical suffering," said the defender of the believer.
Dennis Christensen was eligible for parole or replacement of the unserved part of the sentence about a year ago. According to the rules for accounting for the term of imprisonment, 1 day of detention in a pre-trial detention center is equal to 1.5 days in a general regime colony. Thus, by June 23, Christensen will have served almost 4 years and 1 month out of 6 years of court-appointed imprisonment. On three occasions the Lgov court refused to consider the believer's petition for mitigation of punishment on formal grounds. However, the last petition - the fourth - was accepted for consideration by the court and scheduled a hearing for 10 am on June 23, 2020. It is planned that the meeting will be open. The Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark expressed his wish to be present.
Judge Petlitsa will consider the issue of Christensen's early release in the light of the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council regarding 18 Russian believers who are under criminal prosecution on the basis of the same charges on which Dennis Christensen was convicted. On 6 May 2020, the Group found the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses illegal and called for their immediate release in connection with the pandemic.