Russian human rights defender jailed for five years


A Russian human rights defender has been jailed for five years in a high security penal colony on charges of theft and robbery amid fears that he may have been targeted for his human rights work. Aleksei Sokolov, who campaigned against torture and corruption in law enforcement agencies, was sentenced by a court in the Sverdlosk region of Russia.

Aleksei Sokolov’s lawyers said there have been a series of violations of criminal procedure in the handling of his case. He is going to appeal against the verdict. According to Sokolov's lawyers, the court based its verdict solely on the statements of the co-accused in this case who are already serving prison sentences for other crimes.

Aleksei Sokolov is founder and head of the Russian human rights organisation Pravovaya Osnova (Legal Base) which campaigns against torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Russia. Legal Base brought about several investigations against law enforcement officers on allegations including the use of torture to coerce suspects to "confess."

Aleksei Sokolov rose to prominence after he publicised and distributed a film about torture and other ill-treatment in a temporary holding centre in Yekaterinburg. The film which received international attention, led to the closure of the centre. He has also investigated possible corruption in some law-enforcement agencies in Yekaterinburg.

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