“It was never my intention to hurt anyone, it was never my intention to endanger the Russian people, it was never my intention to break any laws here,” Griner said at the Khimki city courthouse. “I made an honest mistake and I hope in your statement that my life does not end here. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that is far from this courtroom.
“I want to say again that I had no intention of breaking Russian laws. I had no intention. I did not collude or intend to commit this crime,” she added.p
A ruling is expected as soon as 10:45 a.m. ET.
According to attorney Maria Blagovolina, a partner at the law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners, a prosecutor in closing arguments Thursday asked for Griner’s 9.5 years in prison before Griner’s apology.
In response, Blagovolina argued that Griner has never used marijuana in Russia, and that she never intended to do so. She didn’t have to bring the vape cartridges to Russia, the lawyer added.
All this confirms the complete absence of intent in her actions, argued Blagovolina. Even if Griner ever used medical marijuana, it was only at home in Arizona, rare and only on a doctor’s prescription, she added. She couldn’t have known how strict the laws were in Russia, Blagovolina said.
Griner arrived at the court in handcuffs on Thursday and was escorted to the suspect’s cage by Russian agents. Once detached, she spoke to her legal team, then held up a photo of the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, the Russian squad she played for during the WNBA outdoor season.
Another of Griner’s lawyers, Alexander Boykov, argued that Griner had no opportunity to properly examine the court documents. He said that the Russian constitution guarantees everyone the right to use their mother tongue and the free choice of the language of communication.
Boykov cited a case where a language interpreter supplied to Griner flipped through a lengthy document submitted by a researcher for translation and then told Griner, “Basically, that means you’re guilty.”
US embassy chargé d’affaires in Russia, Elizabeth Rood, arrived in court on Thursday ahead of the hearing. She appeared in court during the trial, saying on Tuesday that the US will “continue to support Miss Griner every step of the way and for as long as it takes to get her safely to the United States.”
How the process went
Griner’s lawyers advanced some arguments that undermined the prosecution’s case, alleging that the basketball player’s arrest had not been handled properly after she was detained by staff at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Feb. 17.
Her detention, search and arrest were “inappropriate,” Boykov said last week, noting that more details would be revealed during closing arguments.
No lawyer was present, Griner testified, and her rights were not explained to her. Those rights included access to a lawyer once she was detained and the right to know what she was suspected of doing. Under Russian law, she should have been advised of her rights within three hours of her arrest.
On Tuesday, at the seventh hearing in her case, a defense expert testified that the examination of the substance in Griner’s vape cartridges was not in accordance with Russian law. Blagovolina also told DailyExpertNews that her team’s experts identified “a few defects” in the machines used to measure the substance.
At the trial, Griner testified that she has a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis and had no intention of bringing the drug to Russia. After her detention in February, she was tested for drugs and was clean, her lawyers said earlier.
In her testimony, Griner “explained to the court that she knows and respects Russian laws and never intended to break them,” Blagovolina said after last week’s hearing.
“We continue to maintain that, through indiscretion, she hastily packed her suitcase and paid no attention to the fact that substances authorized for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and arrived in the Russian Federation,” Boykov said. . of the Moscow Legal Center, said.
The trial took place against the background of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the country’s saber clashing with the US and Europe.
The Kremlin also warned on Tuesday that US “megaphone diplomacy” will not help negotiate a prisoner swap involving Griner. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believes these talks should be “discreet”.
Griner’s family, supporters and WNBA teammates have continued to express their solidarity and hope as they await the conclusion of the trial. Her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, is expected to play against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.
DailyExpertNews’s Elizabeth Wolfe, Travis Caldwell, Dakin Andone, Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez, Jennifer Hansler, Natasha Bertrand, Frederik Pleitgen, Chris Liakos and Masha Angelova contributed to this report.