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Trial day 11: Hitman Zarutsky testifies
Trial day 11: Stars defend Filin, attack Tsiskaridze
30 NOV 13 The Bolshoi acid trial is almost done: yesterday [Friday] all sides gave their final depositions and arguments, and at the end of it Judge Elena Maximova said she would give her verdict next Tuesday.
The prosecution requested sentences of 10 years jail with hard labour for Zarutsky, 9 years for Dmitrichenko and 6 for Lipatov.
It was revealed that Dmitrichenko has already been paying instalments towards potential damages to Filin - the amount is likely to be determined in a separate civil lawsuit, which the judge in this case would need to authorise, if there is a guilty verdict.
Dmitrichenko forlornly referred to the still-unexamined video of his police interrogation which he has previously claimed would show his being pressurised into his statements. At Monday’s hearing the judge promised to have it shown on Wednesday. This, one would think, was vital evidence, not only concerning Dmitrichenko’s veracity but also to check out police methods, which arouse huge suspicion in the public.
However his lawyer chose to finish with another attack on Filin’s performance as Bolshoi ballet artistic director, and queried why Dmitrichenko’s illicit recording of the notorious December grants commission was not entered into the case file.
He also suggested, when Filin’s acid-splashed clothing was displayed, that it had been cut, not burned.
Zarutsky declared in his final statement that he had tested his electrolyte mix on his own hand with no ill effects, hence he could not have imagined its effects on Filin.
It appears unlikely that any of these significant last-minute claims will be tested, to elicit the facts within the insinuations that would otherwise be left hanging in the air. But to be fair to the court, I can’t deduce from the strikingly patchy Russian press reporting throughout the trial whether statements have been accurately or fully reported.
Here is a translation of the moment-by-moment RAPSI live report of what’s expected to be the last day but one of this painful case.
‘The last words have been spoken’
RAPSI is making a live running report from the Meshchansky Court, Moscow, during the trial of three men accused of attacking the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin. The assault occurred on 17 January in Moscow: someone splashed acid in Filin’s face. He was hospitalized with third-degree burns on his face and eyes.Filin has undergone more than 20 operations on his eyes. Now his left eye has 80% sight; treatment on the right eye is still going on, but Filin can see large objects. In the middle of September the ballet director returned to Moscow from Germany where he was being treated.
In the dock are the defendants, Bolshoi ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two unemployed men, a former convict and Ryasansky resident Yuri Zarutsky, who the prosecution say was the immediate attacker, and Moscow resident Andrei Lipatov, suspected of having driven Zarutsky to to the scene of the crime.
Today the trial has reached the final statements on both sides. We recall that the defendants, Pavel Dmitrichenko, Yuri Zarutsky and Andrei Lipatov, are charged under Section 3 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code with “intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm." The maximum penalty under this article is imprisonment up to 12 years.
RAPSI is running a constant update via Twitter as well as online in both Russian and English. The court bailiffs have built something unimaginable out of benches in order to contain the journalists, and they won’t allow it to be photographed. What a pity - we pass on that the architectural design is highly diverting.
Today’s hearing will start with the investigation’s research evidence. This will include a jar of tomato paste, for instance. The usher brings in two enormous cardboard boxes. At the last session Sergei Zhorin (Lipatov’s lawyer) was concerned that enough time would not be allowed to look at the jar of tomato paste. [...]
The bailiffs are being unusually severe today and requiring that the moment the defendants are led in, no one will be allowed to hold up a phone. They promise to evict anyone who disobeys.
The prosecutor displays the clothing that Filin was wearing when he was attacked. She says they have traces of acid on them. The prosecutor is wearing yellow rubber gloves, and holds a dark green bag with various marks on it. The prosecutor says, this shows “the eating away of the fabric”.
Here is the jacket, black, corroded in various places. The prosecutor argues that these are “marks of rotting”. Defence lawyer Zhorin insists they have been cut.
All the evidence items are packed in separate boxes which were carefully sealed with Scotch tape.
While the prosecutor unpacks another box, Zhorin (he is being amazingly active today) asks if the tomato paste jar is in there. No, it’s a glove. “It seems there are no obvious traces here,” says the prosecutor. It seems, that’s because it was Zarutsky’s. Zarutsky denies it’s his.
But we will not be able to look at the jar. The prosecutor asks for these pieces of evidence to be kept until the verdict. [The jacket and watch are not produced.]
At Filin’s lawyers’ request, a work memo is attached, which refers to Dmitrichenko’s promotion to leading soloist rank. The document is signed by Filin.
The prosecution is looking at these in relation to Filin’s claim for compensation for the material damage. The jacket cost 87,000 rubles [£1,600], the value of the watch is not specified but the box said it was Chaumet and some paperwork for it is produced.
Last evidence to add
The judge asks the accused if they have anything else to add.
Dmitrichenko’s lawyer attaches a character reference and document about how Dmitrichenko went abroad between the attack and his arrest and “nothing happened”. By this, surely, he implies that there was a chance to get away but Pavel did not do so.
He attaches another document, staying that Dmitrichenko’s father is a pensioner, and that Pavel was elected to the Bolshoi Theatre dancers’ union for a five-year term. Also a document that the intercom at the victim’s home was working at the time of the attack (we recall that Filin said he could not get it open first time after he was attacked).
Also he lodges two cheques for, he says, “two amounts”. One is on account for the possible compensation for moral damage, the other for material damage. It seems that Dmitrichenko has already made some payments, but the figures are not made public. These are studied by the judge and Filin’s representatives.
Yet another document is submitted by the defence: the letter written in his defence by Bolshoi Theatre workers. Filin’s representative look carefully at it, take notes, photograph it.
The defence team say they are not against the submission of necessary documents but they draw attention to the fact that the Dmitrichenko character reference was made in April.
Now Filin’s representatives ask for the bailiffs to stop journalists producing live reporting of the proceedings. The prosecutors also request it. It may be made an official petition. We however once again will say that we are operating within the law (not just one but several, including the press law and YPK ruling that “People present in open court hearings have the right to make audio recordings and written notes. The taking of phtographs, video and film rdcordings may be permitted by the chairman of the court.”). And we will continue.
[RAPSI notes in aside that it has been attacked by Filin’s assistant Dilyana Timergazina on her Facebook page, for running its live transcription. But it maintains that it is legal.]
No further medical opinion
Zarutsky’s lawyer asks to submit several documents, as well as requesting an additional medical examination of Filin’s injuries. He said, there appears to be information from other sources that contradicts the existing expert opinion, and therefore he has doubts about the reliability of the results of the examinations.
The defendants and their lawyers back up Zarutsky’s defence petition, though Filin’s do not. The prosecutor says she sees no grounds for another medical examination. The expert was properly questioned during the trial, she says, and he confirmed the findings of Filin’s injury.
The court adjourns to the deliberation room to pronounce on this petition.
[During the break RAPSI reports that Dmitrichenko has paid Filin 50,000 rubles [£920] so far.]
The judge returns, and refuses the petition for a second medical examination.
No one has any further submissions, so all evidence has now been presented.
Prosecutor wraps up
Winding up speeches. The prosecutor says she will not repeat the plot, but will focus on the injury to Filin. Dmitrichenko provided information of Filin’s whereabouts and financed the crime, buying phones for the operatives and enabling their arrival at the scene. The guilt of the parties is confirmed by the material evidence and numerous statements, she said.
She recalls the statements of Batyr Annadurdyev, who testified how Dmitrichenko got out of his car on the evening 17 January and went over to another for a short time. The prosecutor asks the court to treat Dmitrichenko’s testimony with a critical eye. The truthfulness of Zarutsky’s evidence is also dubious, she says. But it is consistent with the accused’s statements during the investigation and with those of Dmitrichenko, in the detail of the phone calls.
The prosecutor refers to the expert conclusion about the amount of injury to Filin’s health and to Zarutsky’s statements, which showed that he intended to carry out the attack on Filin, having earlier established a date and time for the trip with Lipatov, and took money from Dmitrichenko. The crime was carefully planned and committed “late in the day”, she said.
Dmitrichenko’s motive was a personal animosity against Filin, his interest in Angelina Vorontsova [at that time, Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend: RAPSI], and the grants. The defence’s attempts to show that Dmitrichenko was not concerned about his career was not supported by the statements of a whole series of witnesses.
The statements by certain witnesses for the defence that Dmitrichenko was a good man were dictated by their being his friends. The statements that Dmitrichenko was an explosive, aggressive man were made by those who had actually seen evidence of it.
Zarutsky’s statement that he did not want to cause Filin serious harm did not bear examination. Dmitrichenko hid information about the crime from the investigating authorities, and he frequently changed his story, said the prosecutor.
Lipatov could not be ignorant of the crime, he could not have not heard it being discussed, and he could not have not seen the fact of Dmitrichenko handing over money to Zarutsky. Guilt was fully demonstrated, and the prosecution were asking for Zarutsky to be sentenced to 10 years prison with hard labour, Dmitrichenko 9 years and Lipatov 6.
The prosecutor is taking into account partial damages, and asks for it to be fulfilled by a civil claim.
Filin’s lawyer wraps up
Filin’s representative [Tatyana Stukalova] now takes the floor. She said that Filin’s testimony was objectively confirmed by the witness of his wife, her father, the concierge and the security guard. The guilt of the accused is confirmed by the conclusions of the forensics. Personal conflicts between Dmitrichenko and Filin were confirmed by many theatre artists, she reminds the court.
The fact of Lipatov’s participation in the crime is confirmed by his words that he was near the crime scene and was waiting for Zarutsky.
The victim’s representatives believe that the actions of the accused checked out, and Dmitrichenko did not stop Zarutsky - but, on the contrary, he incited him. His lawyer Tatyana Stukalova concludes, asking for guilty verdicts, and for properly punitive prison sentence. In her view, none of them deserves leniency.
She also asks the court to take a decision on a civil lawsuit. The victim lost a down jacket, a sweater, shirt, jeans and gloves. A bag, a watch and iPhone were ruined. In all, the cost of the loss amounts to more than 200,000 rubles [£3,600].
The acid did not take effect only at the point when it made contact with his face, but later, causing the victim agonising pain, said Stukalova. “The man hoped that when they took the bandages off he would see the light again in full, but it turned out that in fact he would not see it,” she said.
“He cannot go out alone, he has to have someone with him. He has three children who now can’t have the same full relationship with their father.”
They petitioned for compensation of 508,000 rubles [£9,300] and 3million rubles [£55,000], in respect of material and moral damage respectively, to be recovered from the three accused, Stukalova concluded.
Now Pavel Dmitrichenko speaks. Today he has two notebooks, he periodically looks at them. “ ‘Dmitrichenko stated that Filin crossed Sadovoye Koltso’ [IB Moscow's ring road] - I don’t know where this information comes from,” he said. He believes phrases have been pulled out of his statements “to build up my guilt”. He says he’s heard several phrases for the first time. “I admit, that I proposed to beat Filin up. But that I knew about the electrolyte is not true.”
Dmitrichenko notes that he did not know what the liquid was to be called. “Someone said acid, someone said electrolyte.” He admitted that he phoned Zarutsky on 17 January. However, he had not denied it when he was being questioned.
The dancer was noticeably nervous, notes our correspondent, often breathing heavily, and constantly looking at his notebook. “I said, that it was serious with Filin. When a lawyer in Tagansky Court [the pre-charge hearings] said Filin was simulating, I immediately got rid of them [RAPSI: ie the lawyer].”
Dmitrichenko repeats the statement of his acquaintance with Zarutsky, they met in the shop, then the other man often phoned him. He was surprised by Zarutsky’s action against Filin, he said he did not know about his criminal past.
“I do not agree with the indictment that I was supposedly dissatisfied with Filin’s professional conduct and his casting of roles.” Dmitrichenko did not understand how Vorontsova had anything to do with it: “The yellow press has been writing about this, and I don’t even want to talk about it.”
“Your honour, speaking to you as a human being, what the investigator recorded in the affidavits were done as formalities.” He insisted that he did not tail Filin. “The video shows that I left early.”
He repeats that he knew nothing of Zarutsky’s use of electrolyte, and did not accept that he was guilty as charged, though he did admit that he proposed to Zarutsky that he should assault Filin. “I am ready to be punished under Article 116. I beg Filin’s forgiveness, and I want to reiterate that I never asked anybody to do what was done to Filin,” Dmitrichenko finished.
Now it's Yuri Zarutsky. He denies that Andrei Lipatov helped him. “If Lipatov knew about my crime, I suggest, knowing Lipatov, that he would not have come along with me.” Zarutsky insisted that his own car was broken down that day, and this was the only reason why he used the services of Lipatov.
He also recalled that in one of the statements he “had dozed off in a dream”, and because of that had not heard the witness’s testimony. “I’ll serve a stretch while they do what?” he protested. “If you split the stuff women use to take off their nail polish onto a jacket, it would have the same effect. So why use acid?”
He says, he took Lipatov on to be his cabbie. Zarutsky distinctly remembers that the music was on in the car very loud, and when he was talking with Dmitrichenko about the attack. Lipatov could not hear about the crime, he maintains.
Dmitrichenko became “hysterical” when he heard about what he’d done, said Zarutsky. Dmitrichenko, he said, used this for his own purposes. “His life was breaking up twice, first his family life, and second, his flourishing property business. Your honour, what then? I know from my own example.
“Money isn’t a bad motive in life, it always interested me. And events put these two young men my way,” he went on. He said, that the investigator was lucky his hands were tied, or he would have stabbed him in the eye with a pen. This was because he had many different bouts of interrogation, among which were some very unpleasant ones.
Lipatov’s lawyer wraps up
Now for Andrei Lipatov’s defence lawyer, Sergei Zhorin. he says he is showked by the prosecutor’s speech. “Lipatov has no criminal record and I hope he will not have on in the future.” He says on the basis of the evidence provided, it would be laughable if Lipatov were threatened with 6 years in prison. “All we’ve heard is this roundelay: Dmitrichenko - Zarutsky - Lipatov, Dmitrichenko - Zarutsky - Lipatov. Let’s talk about the so-called hostile relations: Lipatov had none with Filin. He had never once been to the Bolshoi Theatre.”
Zhorin is indignant and knows it. But he continues: the prosecution case is that Lipatov’s motive is explained as his problems with money. But who hasn’t?, he says. Not long before the crime Lipatov lost his grandparents, as a result of which his mother was taken to hospital, and so it can’t be assumed that Lipatov would risk her health.
Lipatov’s lawyer has no doubt that Filin suffered and was afraid that he might lose out in terms of his job. In this case, the lawyer asks that the fate of yet another person should not be ruined. Lipatov being placed near the crime scene does not make him an accomplice, says the lawyer. "If Zarutsky had arrived by metro, would the finger of blame be pointed at the engineer? Lipatov’s car was registered to his wife, and so it seems she enabled the crime’s commission, so let us condemn her,” offered the lawyer.
Zhorin reminds the court that the driver should not be interested in where the passenger is going. And anyway Zarutsky is not the kind of man who will put up with questions. “The way the case is positioned shocks me. Lipatov’s guilt is proved by the fact that he did not go to the toilet, so as not to upset Zarutsky’s plan. Excuse me, we must all not go to the toilet, we have to suffer so as not to disturb someone’s plans?”
Zhorin remarks that Lipatov from the very first gave truthful testimony and furthermore never changed it, but only supplemented. Zhorin draws the court’s attention to the fact that Lipatov only ever used his own phone. “He is clean, criminally speaking,” says Zhorin.
During this, the prosecutor is reading a book, says our correspondent. Judging from the pictures that can be seen, it’s about ballet.
Zhorin continues: “Further, they are categorising what Lipatov could not have not known, what he could not have not heard. Who decides this? Could he or not? Evidence must be credible and refer to something specific. Try to think of yourself six years ago! I, for example, got married and divorced three times in that time!” For some reason the defending lawyer has tried to remember the events of six years ago.
The lawyer believes that there isn’t even circumstantial evidence of Lipatov’s guilt, and he asks the court to follow the law, and if it nominate a penalty for him, to take into account his innocence. As far as the civil lawsuit is concerned, he corrects the point - it was not specified, so it follows that it should be denied and left to be scrutinised at another time.
Excuse us, says Zhorin, but Lipatov is “crystal clear” even if not “criminally clean” in the phone’s autocorrect [IB this is an attempted joke on the fact that in Russian the phrases are only two letters different].
Lipatov’s second lawyer, Ruslan Dyachkov, takes over. “In the defendants’ dock there sits an innocent man who had no criminal intent.” Lipatov did not know Filin personally, he never communicated with Dmitrichenko. And the lawyer poses a rhetorical question: when, in this case, did Lipatov engage in a criminal conspiracy with Dmitrichenko?
"We prepared our speech with reference to the rule of law, of the Supreme Court. But a dull reading of rules won’t do. So our speech is not prepared, it’s impromptu. It’s impossible to plant a man just because of what he was earning. What guided this indictment, asking for such a huge prison term? You’ve got from zero to 12 years - you want six? Why wouldn’t one year do?” The counsel argues that Lipatov has already done enough time in custody, and is outraged that that there’s no gradation in the case, he is not the executant, he is not an accomplice.
“I ask for an acquittal or, if this is impossible, to limit the sentence to what he has already served,” the defence speech ends.
Zarutsky’s lawyer wraps up
Zarutsky’s lawyer now takes over. He remarks that he enjoyed listening to the prosecutor’s speech, but it wasn’t clear to him how Zarutsky was supposed to know what effect the electrolyte would have: "He tried the electrolyte out on his hand and therefore could not predict such serious consequences."
Zarutsky himself decided to use the battery acid and never informed Dmitrichenko nor Lipatov. He was forced to use Lipatov’s services, the lawyer reminds the court. If it was not the desire of the investigators to “exaggerate the circle of people concerned”, Zarutsky would ask for a special order, says his lawyer. The defence asks the the court when passing sentence to take into account that Zarutsky has a three-year-old daughter.
Dmitrichenko’s lawyer wraps up
Now Dmitrichenko’s lawyer Sergei Kadyrov steps up. “With respect to the injury, there is no one who would not express sympathy for Filin,” he says. “The letters that were signed by theatre employees were not signed against Filin, but for Dmitrichenko - these are two different issues: what happened with Dmitrichenko and what happened with Filin.”
The lawyer attacks the prosecution speech. According to him, the current indictment is significantly different from the previous one: "I was very surprised when at the end of the speech it was claimed that Dmitrichenko played the role of organizer: this goes far beyond the charges before us."
The defender asks for special attention to be paid to the prosecutor’s phrase “that what is not disallowed by the law, is permissible”. “This is for private relations, but in the sphere of law and order what is allowed is only what is allowed by law.” According to the lawyer, the motive for the attack has been stated otherwise: “It’s now said that the motive was Filin’s removal from his position.”
Lawyer Kadyrov recalls the testimony of witnesses who asserted that they did know of the conflicts between Dmitrichenko and Filin. "Even the prosecution witnesses said in the theatre everyone was an emotional type,” Kadyrov goes on. He acknowledges that it was unexpected to find the arrival of prosecution witnesses with their testimony in which it seemed they had nothing bad to say about Dmitrichenko.
He draws attention to the fact that investigators ignored a request to examine the recording of the union meeting. It’s not clear to the defence how exactly Dmitrichenko was unhappy with the distribution of grants: “The investigators did not think it necessary to pay attention to this.”
Kadyrov reads excerpts from witnesses’ testimony, from which it emerges that they did not know of any conflict between Dmitrichenko and Filin. “So I find a question arises to the investigators and state prosecutor, which is what have we examined? Because we didn’t study any documents at all about the status of the artistic director and his responsibilities.” The lawyer thus did not understand whether there was any testimony concerning Filin’s ability to fulfil his position. He said, there was not.
Filin himself, says the lawyer, confirmed he had personal conflicts with others, though not with Dmitrichenko. Not one link to time or place where the crime took place was referred to in the case, continued the counsel.
“According to the investigators, Zarutsky, to carry out his role, bought liquid electrolyte, it says in the file. But there is not one piece of evidence that the others knew about this, not one,” he says. And Dmitrichenko had never changed his position as regards what he knew and did not know about Zarutsky’s getting hold of electrolyte, nor of him using it. “I doubt that the investigator recorded from Dmitrichenko all the to and fro that’s set down in the record, and that Dmitrichenko uttered a single sentence in the whole affidavit,” says Kadyrov.
“Pavel’s forethought was sent in a whole other direction - that from his end it was stupidity to agree with Zarutsky’s proposal. But he had no idea that he would be implicated, and he could have no such idea.” The lawyer says Dmitrichenko should not take the responsibility for Zarutsky’s actions.
If a guilty verdict is to be passed, the lawyer asks for the taking into account of his positive personal characteristics, his parents of pension age, that it was a first offence, that he actively contributed to solving the crime and is already making voluntary payments towards damages. And he also asks for the court not to deprive Dmitrichenko of liberty.
The court asks for Andrei Lipatov to speak, but he has little to say; “I agree with my lawyers.”
The prosecutor re-addresses the claim that Zarutsky could not know what harm using acid would cause. He dripped it on his hand, she queries. Zarutsky replies that he had neither burn nor scar after he tested the liquid on himself. Therefore he did not realise the serious harm that it could cause. Moreover, he says, to avoid serious injuries, he diluted the electrolyte with water.
Dmitrichenko’s lawyer says that many people think Pavel could not commit the crime and there was no evidence to say he could.
Dmitrichenko’s final word
The court permits Dmitrichenko to have a final say, but he asks for a chance to say it during the next session. But the judge says as a warning that today is the final day for speeches, and it is time now for the final word.
Dmitrichenko starts speaking his final words: “My parents brought me up well, so I never had the intention to cause pain and the consequences that Sergei has suffered. If by some way I could put it right… Filin refused to look at the material case, he did not even want to look at it. Your honour, I absolutely do not accept this clause [in the Criminal Code, ie his guilt under that charge]. Here there are many discrepancies and inconsistences with times. But I don’t want to delve into it.
“I do not admit guilt. Not because I want to avoid it but because I did not do anything. I am glad that Sergei has come back. God grant that all goes well for him. The entire situation happened because of my word, I am prepared to take moral responsibility, but for a beating - not for what they’re implying.”
Dmitrichenko concludes, only expressing hope that the judge will work it all out.
Lipatov’s final word
Now Lipatov’s last word. “I have not the slightest involvement with criminals. I ask you to deal with this matter very thoroughly.”
The judge asks the secretary to take all the case materials and evidence to the deliberation room. In the courtoom people get worried - really might there be a verdict today?
Zarutsky’s final word
Just as this is done, Yuri Zarutsky gives his final appeal: “Dear judge, esteemed barristers, I sincerely repent of my deeds, I sincerely apologise to the parents of Lipatov, Dmitrichenko and Filin. Only justice can be found here - it’s in your hands, in your understanding. I do not ask for indulgence - I’ve answered for my own actions since I was a child. It’s turned out ugly to involve two innocents in this brutal venture. I won’t hide anything,” he said.
Zarutsky insists that he never had accomplices: “I reckon if you want to do something well, you do it yourself.” He asks for leniency for Dmitrichenko and Lipatov. “They are respectable people, leading a good, warm life. I don’t want to appear pitiful. They are in no way to blame; it was my intent to get rich, my sense of profit led to this.”
The final words have been spoken. The judge announces that the verdict will be handed down on 3 December at 12 noon.