Since January 23, Alexandre Vinnik is in detention in France and he will remain so.
Charged with money laundering and cryptocurrency fraud, the Russian programmer was extradited from Greece after being arrested in 2017. At a hearing in late January, the French judge decided to keep him in pre-trial detention. Alexander Vinnik’s lawyers appealed the decision in early February.
Before the February 17 appeal hearing, Zoé Konstantopoúlou, lawyer for Alexandre Vinnik, told Sputnik that his client had not yet had access to the documents in Russian and had no way of understanding what he was about. was accused, and therefore to prepare for the hearings.
“It is the right of Alexander Vinnik to have a public trial. We oppose any debate behind closed doors, because this technique could hide the total lack of evidence from the authorities, “insists Zoé Konstantopoúlou at the microphone of Sputnik.
In addition, the lawyers stated that they had difficulty communicating with their client. Vinnik is also cut off from his loved ones. Vera Vinnik, Alexander’s mother, who came to Paris to attend the hearing and try to meet her son, is constantly on the verge of tears: “I couldn’t even call her on her birthday, February 16“. But Vera Vinnik also has another concern: her daughter-in-law’s cancer condition has recently worsened. “We are not telling him that Alexander is in France. His wife is living her last days», Laments Vera Vinnik.
“According to the judges, Alexandre had to be isolated to protect him,” protested Zoé Konstantopoúlou. It’s an Orwellian approach: we take away your rights for your good. It’s just an assault on his freedoms, to affect his dignity and resilience. ”
On February 8, the Russian Embassy in Paris sent a protest note to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the Vinnik affair “to demand that the rights of the Russian citizen be respected […] as well as to expedite the examination of the request of the Attorney General of the Russian Federation to surrender Alexander Vinnik to Russia, taking into account his citizenship and his agreement to be extradited to Russia.”
Alexey Popov, Consul of the Russian Federation in Paris, present for the first time at the Vinnik hearing, told us that his services had sent “a note requesting that consular representatives be allowed to attend the trial“And, as head of the consular service, that he was going”try again to attend the hearing today“.
The diplomatic note had no effect on the investigation of the file, according to the lawyer, who said that she was not aware of this diplomatic move.
“On February 10, there was even a new restriction on his rights against Alexander: a court order. Then, on February 13, an unspoken attempt to interrogate Vinnik was reported, “said Zoé Konstantopoúlou.
The hearing was interrupted several times and ended late in the evening. After the arguments of the lawyers and the deputy prosecutor, who requested that Vinnik be kept in detention, the court gave the floor to the Russian. Vinnik reported to the judge a violation of his rights, both on the French side and on the Greek side:
“I have sent more than ten requests through the investigating authorities and have not received a response to the question of whether I am a witness, a suspect or an accused.”
But Alexandre Vinnik could not follow through on his argument. After asking him to quote only the main points from his written speech, one of the judges began to ask questions … which continued with a verbal fight between the defense lawyer and the magistrates. Then the latter withdrew to make a decision, without having listened to Vinnik until the end.
“Alexander was not heard. However, we are pleased that, for the first time, the press was able to attend the hearing and see the lack of an independent and impartial procedure, “said Zoé Konstantopoúlou after the hearing.
At a press conference in Paris on February 18, Vera Vinnik said that she had given Alexey Popov an open letter to Emanuel Macron: “I ask you to assure him of the rights for an impartial and objective hearing at the same level as for European citizens, of which he is currently deprived. ”
The French foreign ministry said it had sent Vinnik’s extradition request to Russia to the justice ministry on January 31.