Jailed Ukrainian Filmmaker's Lawyers Say Russia Breached Human Rights Convention


KARLOVY VARY — Lawyers acting for Oleg Sentsov, the jailed Ukrainian filmmaker, say Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a member, by arresting Sentsov on terrorism charges.

In a letter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Yonko Grozev writes that his client's arrest in Crimea and rendition to Moscow by Russian security agents breaches a number of key articles in the convention.

Sentsov was "ill-treated by security personnel for three hours, in an effort to make him confess to the charges against him," following his arrest May 10 in Simferopol on terrorism charges, the letter states.

He was denied access to lawyers after his arrest in Crimea. And since his rendition to Russia, where he is being held in pre-trial detention at Moscow's Lefortovo jail, his legal team has been threatened with criminal prosecution if they reveal any details of proceedings against their client and has been denied access to prosecution documents relating to Sentsov's arrest and detention.

The letter is the first move in a process to lodge a formal complaint about Sentsov's arrest and transfer to Moscow.

The document states that Sentsov's lawyers "will argue that he was arrested in complete disregard of the applicable extradition procedures, which resulted in an unlawful deprivation of liberty in violation of [key articles] of the Convention."

The letter was sent Monday, the same day a Moscow court denied Sentsov bail. The court dismissed requests that house arrest could be substituted for bail, instead ordering that the filmmaker be held in prison until his trail, set to begin October 11.

In a statement to the court, Sentsov denied he had ever been a member of Right Sector — a Ukrainian national group Russia says is behind violent attacks in Urkaine — or any other extremist group.

He denied plotting to destroy wartime monuments in Crimea, adding that he took the accusation as a "personal insult."

Following Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, Ukrainian citizens were automatically deemed by Moscow to have become Russian unless they left the region.

Sentsov challenged that, telling the judge that he was a Ukrainian citizen and not a "slave" that could be transferred from one landowner to another, adding that he wished to return to his own country.

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