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The Courts Science

Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court 232

scibri writes "Think the imprisonment of Pussy Riot is a miscarriage of justice? Check out the story of their cellmate: Chemist Olga Nikolaevna Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute. She is an expert in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants. Last year, she was asked by defense lawyers to give her opinion in a case involving imported poppy seeds. The prosecutors didn't like her evidence though, and now she's in prison accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking."
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Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court

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  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:02PM (#41416061)

    I would think that maybe this is not related to that particular case or is it? I realize with the whole Pussy Riot thing was blown way out of proportion but I would think that this sends a chill down the backs of every citizen in Russia today if it's true.

    I didn't see in the article what the formal charges were, just "charged with complicity" socould she have helped some other organization and also, why didn't the prosecutors corroborate or refute the evidence she presented with another analysis of the poppy materials?

  • by Muros ( 1167213 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:12PM (#41416141)
    Why refute evidence when you can just arrest anyone who contradicts you with facts?
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:13PM (#41416157)

    Seriously. The very language of the charge spells out the kind of justice that is being dished out: we say you are guilty, and the court is a formality. Don't question the ruling party comrade.

    If her report showed that the defendant couldn't possibly have been importing poppyseeds for the manufacture of narcotics, due to the almost undetectable levels of the required compounds in the imported samples, then he should have been released, and charges dropped.

    Claiming that she is complicit with drug smuggling means they found the defendant in the case she testifed for to be guilty anyway. Otherwise, how could she have been complicit in his "criminal importation operation"?

    Seriously-- I thought this kind of shit ended with the cold war, and that Russia was trying its best to become a respectable member of the global community. Seriously... this shit is out of control.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:37PM (#41416347) Journal

    Comrades Put down the Vodka for a moment and THINK.

    If anyone involved with drug prohibition actually thought, there would be no drug prohibition.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:57PM (#41416559)

    As much as it clashes with both our "Russia is evil" and our "science is right" mindsets, there are some explanations that could justify this. I'm not saying they're actually what happened (indeed, "Russia is evil" is the simplest and most likely explanation), but someone more fluent in Russian than I can look at the actual documents and see.

    First, suppose the expert is not actually an expert, just an accomplice of the traffickers posing as one to try to get out of the charges. Rather obvious conspiracy charges there.

    But let's suppose the expert scientist is indeed both an expert and a scientist. But let's also suppose that some stronger evidence showed clear drug charges - for instance, finding actual drugs and video evidence of trafficking. This could mean the expert was simply incompetent, or was bought off. Either of those would be grounds for obstruction of justice, although probably not conspiracy (at least according to my limited knowledge of a different country's laws).

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go actually read the article.

  • by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:18PM (#41416699) Journal
    How about gruel-born double-standards?
    I've been wondering what all this hysteria about Big Bad Russia is about for some time now. Surely Russia is no Shambhala, but the US is a veritable litigation shit-hole slaughterhouse. We, here in the U.S. of A., imprison more people than any other nation [nytimes.com]. We have a privatized prison-industry and trade virtual crime-futures on the stock-exchange. Closer and closer we are coming to a re-introduction of prison labor, all while a repugnantly large portion of incarcerated citizens live in cages for victimless crimes.

    My advice to anyone itching to don the Good-Guy Badge and storm the palace of bacchanalian litigation, is to look no further if you are a US citizen. In no way do I suggest that pointing fingers at corruption is error; but we really do have some house-cleaning of our own to do -- and to recklessly embrace hypocrisy may not be wise.
  • Re:Russia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:01PM (#41417049)

    No there isn't. You are a fool to even suggest there is. Assine laws enforced with procedure are no different that good/poor laws enforced without procedure. If I make it illegal to breathe but you still have due process when you are convicted you think that's better?

    Both scenarios result in tremendous damage to truly innocent people. There isn't a such thing as less terrible when the result is destroying peoples lives. Oh don't worry George, you only lost 30 years of your life for an unjust law, but at least you weren't railroaded over a just law and lost 30 years, because that would just suck so much more.

  • Re:Same in the US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:04PM (#41417099)

    No it didn't. They basically killed off everyone that had the connections to establish a cogent civil order, because civil order cannot meet the demands of mob rule, which is what the revolution became.

    It indeed did end when the peasant classes refused to listen to the revolutionaries, as they woke up to the festering hell they had created, and the endless witch-hunts the revolutionaries were inciting in trying to hypocritically enforce their own wills over others, and branding any resistance "tyrany". In the end it wasn't at all about equal treatment in the courts, equal opportunities to own land, etc.. it was about vying groups of revolutionaries denouncing each other, and killing each others' supporters until the population basically just ignored them, and went about living.

    In many respects, napolean's conquest actually helped bring order to this torn up france, and fostered reconstruction. The vacuums in local politics enabled the grassroots democracy that slowly sprang up however.

    I agree though. The revolutionaries had gold on the brain. Not philosophy, nor intents on equality.

  • Re:Same in the US (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:05PM (#41418059)

    Its a perfect formula to accomplish nothing

    It's a formula for killing a lot of people.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.