25 November 2020, 20:09
Lawyers appeal extension of custody for Church of Last Testament founder, 2 other defendants
Novosibirsk, November 25, Interfax - The defense team for leader of the Church of the Last Testament Sergey Torop, known by his followers as Vissarion, as well as for the other two defendants in the case, has appealed the extension of their custodial terms, the lawyers said on Telegram.
"The defense team has lodged appeals contesting the extension of the custodial terms of all three defendants. The appeals challenge the first ruling to remand them in custody, which was handed down in September," the laywers said.
Upon completion of his expert evaluation, Torop was sent back to Novosibirsk, most likely by rail, they said.
"The defense team cannot say exactly when he departed, what his itinerary was, or its timeline. Most likely, this was November 16, 2020. We'll find out," the lawyers said.
Vladimir Vedernikov and Vadim Redkin are currently being examined at the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, the lawyers said.
As reported earlier, the Tsentralny District Court of Novosibirsk has prolonged the defendants' custodial terms, which expired on November 22, until January 15, 2021.
The defendants in the Church of the Last Testament case were earlier transported to Moscow to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, as investigators declined to conduct one in Novosibirsk.
The Church of the Last Testament was founded in the Krasnoyarsk Territory in 1991 by a local resident, Torop, who referred to himself as Vissarion. In 1995, the organization was given its current name and was registered with the Justice Ministry. The adherents of the movement also refer to themselves as the Community of Vissarion and live in several populated areas in the Kuragino District.
Torop and two other leaders, Redkin and Vedernikov, were arrested on September 21. They were charged with forming a religious group whose operation involves violence against citizens and inflicting grievous harm to the health of two or more people. Vedernikov faces only charges of forming a religious group the activities of which involve violence against citizens.
In late September, the Prosecutor's Office of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Prosecutors asked a court to shut down the Kuragino local religious organization Church of the Last Testament, saying that its operation "threatens the interests of the public and the state, encroaches on individual, civic rights and liberties, and risks causing damage to morality and public health."
The court began reviewing the lawsuit on October 26. Its next session has been set for December 14.
Apart from that, the Forestry Ministry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory has lodged a lawsuit with the region's Arbitration Court seeking the dissolution of a contract that allows the Church of the Last Testament to use a plot of forestland for free.