February 11-12, 1999
The trial resumed on 11 February at 2:15 p.m. with a series of surprise motions by the prosecution, including two demands that Judge Prokhorycheva remove herself from the case.
The prosecution first asked the court to order release of medical records regarding two deaths in Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan). The prosecution suggested both deaths were caused by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prosecutor Kondratyeva also wanted the court to review a video from a television news story about one of these cases. On questioning by defence attorney Krylova, the prosecutor admitted she had no information that either family belonged to the Moscow Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The judge dismissed the motion, refusing to authorize a ‘fishing expedition’ into territory beyond her jurisdiction.
The second motion followed. The prosecutor now wanted the judge to reinstate as a public representative, counsel for the Committee for Rescuing Youth from Totalitarian Sects Citing the ruling already made on February 9 about this issue, the judge dismissed the request.
With barely a pause, the prosecution next asked Judge Prokhorycheva to remove herself from the case. Prosecutor Kondratyeva alleged there were doubts as to the judge’s impartiality; she had a personal interest. When questioned, the prosecutor had no evidence of a personal interest. She was upset by the judge’s dismissal of her previous motions. The People’s Representatives considered the removal request and decided it was unfounded and refused its implementation.
The trial resumed at 3:00 p.m. Defence counsel Leontyev continued. With each question, the prosecutor refused to answer. She repeated the phrase, ‘I’ve already said everything I intend to say in my application, and I have nothing more to add. I’ll explain the rest in my closing statement.’ A tug-of-war ensued. At various points, the judge dismissed some questions and directed the prosecutor to answer others. At one point, prosecutor Kondratyeva stated her evidence was still not ready and she would say more in her conclusion. The judge intervened and put on the record the prosecutor was refusing to adhere to procedure. Procedure requires disclosure. The prosecutor requested a short break.
On returning, the prosecutor now asked the judge to remove Canadian lawyer John M. Burns as a representative in the case since he was a “foreigner.” He had been participating by order of the court since 29 September 1998. (Burns is a trial lawyer and member of W. Glen How, Q.C. and Associates, a Canadian law firm that has long specialized in religious liberty and international human rights.) After pointing out Russian law clearly provides for non-Russians to appear as representatives, the judge dismissed the motion.
In a desperate move, the prosecutor again asked the judge to remove herself from the case, citing the judge’s refusal to remove Burns and her warnings to the prosecutor. The day ended at 5:00 p.m. with the court dismissing this motion.
The hearing resumed on Friday, 12 February at 10:20 a.m. Prosecutor Kondtratyeva announced that she was ill and could not proceed. When asked if the prosecutor’s office could supply a substitute, she stated no. The trial adjourned until Monday, 15 February at 10:30 a.m.