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Brittney Griner Trial Verdict Expected Today: Live Updates

The trial of Brittney Griner reached its last stage on Thursday, with the American basketball star showing in a Russian court docket for the beginning of closing arguments in a case that’s anticipated to finish with the conviction of Ms. Griner, who has been caught up within the deep disaster between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The verdict and sentencing are anticipated to be introduced on Thursday night in Moscow, in keeping with Maria Blagovolina, a companion at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners legislation agency who’s representing Ms. Griner. Her protection group had beforehand stated it anticipated the case to complete by mid-August.

Ms. Griner has been in custody in Russia since Feb. 17, accused by the Russian authorities of getting a vape cartridge with cannabis oil in her baggage at an airport close to Moscow. The drug costs she faces carry as much as 10 years in jail beneath Russia’s legal code, and prosecutors in her case requested for a sentence of 9 and a half years. They additionally requested for a tremendous of 1 million rubles, about $16,600.

During one of many preliminary hearings in her case, Ms. Griner pleaded responsible to the cost however insisted that she had not meant to interrupt Russian legislation. Under the Russian judicial course of, the trial proceeded, along with her legal professionals presenting proof aimed toward softening the eventual sentence.

In feedback to the court docket on Thursday, Ms. Griner talked about her upbringing in Houston, the values ​​her dad and mom instilled in her, together with “take possession in your obligations.”

“That’s why I pleaded responsible to my costs; I perceive every thing that has been stated towards me within the costs towards me, however I had no intention to interrupt Russian legislation,” she stated. “I need the court docket to know that it was an sincere mistake that I made whereas speeding and in stress attempting to get better post-Covid and simply attempting to get again to my group.”

A two-time Olympic gold medalist who performs for the Phoenix Mercury within the WNBA, Ms. Griner has for years supplemented her revenue by taking part in in Russia through the low season. Her protection group has been attempting to influence the choose to be lenient. “I’d wish to ask the court docket to acquit my shopper however, if the court docket deems this unattainable, I feel that the penalty ought to be handed down with due account of Griner’s persona and the function she has performed within the improvement of Russian basketball, Ms. Blagovolina advised the court docket on Thursday. “There ought to be a milder penalty.”

Whatever her destiny within the Russian court docket, Ms. Griner has already been the topic of diplomatic bargaining. Russia and the United States have been exchanging alerts that she and one other American held in Russia could possibly be a part of a prisoner change involving a Russian arms seller imprisoned within the United States.

Russian officers have stated that no progress in these negotiations could be made earlier than the court docket completes its trial.

The Biden administration has been beneath strain from Ms. Griner’s spouse and supporters to barter her freedom.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that the US authorities had “put a considerable proposal on the desk” to the Russian aspect concerning Ms. Griner and different Americans held in Russian custody. Mr. Blinken then mentioned the matter together with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, final week, of their first telephone name since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however no breakthroughs have been reported.

Russian officers have insisted that the diplomatic wrangling over Ms. Griner ought to stay behind closed doorways. Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, stated on Tuesday that negotiations over a possible prisoner change “ought to be discreet.”

“Megaphone diplomacy and the general public change of opinions is not going to result in any outcome,” he stated.

Ms. Griner arrived in a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, on her strategy to the Russian metropolis Yekaterinburg close to the Ural Mountains, the place she had been taking part in for an area group through the WNBA low season. Customs officers checked her baggage, the place they discovered two vape cartridges containing lower than one gram of cannabis oil.

News of her detention was made public solely after Russia invaded Ukraine per week later. Ms. Griner, 31, was charged with an try to smuggle a major quantity of banned narcotics into Russia.

She testified through the court docket hearings that the unlawful substance had been in her baggage on account of an oversight whereas packing in a rush. Her protection group famous that she was licensed to make use of medicinal hashish in Arizona to handle ache, which has turn into a typical observe amongst some American athletes.

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