Overview of Michelle’s case, 3rd June 2020
Judgement was given in the Michelle case on 3rd June 2020 after a trial which had lasted four months.
Michelle, a 53 year old transgender woman from the Russian city of Bryansk was convicted of distributing child pornography, the charge against her relating to some hentai and ecchi pictures which she was alleged to have published on her social network page five years previously.
Under Russian criminal law the offence carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.
The Moscow Community Centre took up Michelle’s case in early January 2020, putting together an outstanding legal team to defend her.
Throughout the trial two eminent Moscow lawyers – Olga and Dmitriy Dinze – fought to establish the defendant’s innocence. The independent experts whom they called on the defendant’s behalf were highly qualified in the fields of art, medicine and psychology. Their testimony completely rebutted the evidence submitted by the prosecution. Furthermore it became apparent that the experts called by the prosecution lacked expertise and that most of their conclusions were ill-founded.
Although the judge in her decision last Monday dismissed all the defence arguments and convicted Michelle of the charge, the sentence she passed was not a lengthy prison term as was feared but two years of deductions from work salary and a separate fine of 50,000 roubles.
The time Michelle has already spent in custody will be taken into account so she will have to pay a proportion of her income for a period of eighteen months and fifteen days.
For Michelle and her supporters the sentence came as a great relief. For her to serve time in prison would have been tantamount to a death sentence. Russian law makes no special provision for a transgender woman like Michelle.