KHIMKI, Russia (AP) The drug trial of American basketball star Brittney Griner in a Russian court focused Tuesday on testimony that cannabis, while illegal in Russia, is looked upon far away as having legitimate medicinal use.
Griner has acknowledged that she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil when she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport, but she contends that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters finished up in her luggage inadvertently due to hasty packing.
We have been not arguing that Brittney took it here as a medicine. We have been still saying that she involuntarily brought it here because she was pretty quickly, defense attorney Alexander Boykov said following the session when a Russian neuropsychologist testified about worldwide usage of medicinal cannabis.
The Russian public has to understand, and the Russian court to begin with has to understand, that it had been not useful for recreational purposes in the usa. It had been prescribed by way of a doctor, he said.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the WNBAs Phoenix Mercury, faces around 10 years in prison if convicted. The medical testimony and Griners admission that she had the canisters is targeted at bringing her a mild sentence.
We’ve plenty of mitigating factors. So we do hope that the court will need it under consideration. And the courts in Russia, actually, have very broad discretion pertaining to the sentence, said Maria Blagovolina, another of Griners lawyers.
The trial of the two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury standout began July 1 but only five sessions have already been held, some them lasting no more than one hour.
The slow-moving trial and Griners five months of detention have raised strong criticism among teammates and supporters in the usa, which includes formally declared her to be wrongfully detained, a designation sharply rejected by Russian officials.
Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. Embassys charge daffaires, attended Tuesdays court session. Griner confirms that she actually is doing ok and the as should be expected under these situations, she told reporters.
Griner was arrested in February amid high U.S.-Moscow tensions before Russia sending troops into Ukraine later that month. Some supporters contend she actually is being held in Russia as a pawn, possibly for a prisoner swap. American soccer notable Megan Rapinoe the other day said shes being held as a political prisoner, obviously.
The Russian Foreign Ministry the other day lashed out at the U.S. contention that Griner has been wrongfully detained and said Russian laws ought to be respected.
In case a U.S. citizen was used connection with the truth that she was smuggling drugs, and she will not deny this, then this will be commensurate with this Russian local laws, rather than with those adopted in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, NY and Washington, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
If drugs are legalized in the usa, in several states, which is done for a long period and now the complete country can be drug-addicted, this will not mean that all the countries are following same path, she added.
Russian media have speculated that Griner could possibly be exchanged for prominent Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, who’s imprisoned in the usa, and that Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage, could also figure within an exchange.
U.S. officials haven’t commented on the prospects for this type of trade. Russian officials have said no exchange could possibly be discussed before conclusion of the legal proceedings against Griner. It really is unclear just how long the trial can last, but a court has authorized Griners detention until Dec. 20.
Previous trial sessions have included character-witness testimony from the director and captain of the Russian team that Griner played for in the off-season, alongside written testimony including a doctors letter saying he previously authorized her to utilize cannabis for pain treatment.