It turns out that Memorial’s court victory was short lived. According to Fotanka.ru, the St. Petersburg prosecutor appealed the Dzerzhinskii court’s February 24 ruling that went in Memorial’s favor.
My hope, even jubilation, that this circus was finally over was premature. The case will now go to court for the third time.
Irina Flige, the head of Memorial, told Ezhednevnyi zhurnal that the prosecutor’s office promised to begin returning the hard disks though there was no agreement on the procedure. “We must make sure that [the materials] are complete and that all the information is there, and that they are in working condition,” she said. She then added this interesting assessment of the situation,
It is not stated in the law how many times the prosecutor can appeal a court’s decision. The meaning is altogether obvious: The fact that the district and city court simply dealt out the pot [i.e. as in poker]. And as long as we can’t jump out of this circle, we can’t appeal the decision to a higher authority. As long as they play his game of “district court good, city court bad”, we can’t take any other steps. The first time this wasn’t clear, but now it has become clear. That is to say, even if the district court makes a bad ruling the second time, we will have the possibility of moving further because would would have some kind of decision. Our decisions do not go into legal force and we have nothing to appeal.
Does Flige mean that Memorial is stuck in a legal dance with the prosecutor, and as long as the courts rule in their favor, they are stuck at the district and city level? Maybe someone who knows Russian legal process can explain this.
In the meantime, Memorial is back at square one. No exact court date set for the next trial. This will be announced after April 10.
A third time’s a charm, I guess . . .