Thu, 08 Dec 2022

Ex-US marine sentenced in Russian cop attack

RT.com
05 Oct 2022, 03:35 GMT+10

Robert Gilman received four-and-a-half years in prison for drunkenly attacking a police officer

Former US marine Robert Gilman has been sentenced to years in a Russian prison for assaulting a police officer under the influence of alcohol. The court ruling was announced on Tuesday.

Authorities removed the vet from a train in Voronezh in January after several fellow passengers on the Sochi-to-Moscow trip complained he was drunk and creating a disturbance. Once in custody, he allegedly kicked a police officer, bruising him.

Gilman claimed he did not remember the incident but nevertheless insisted he had "apologized to Russia," as well as to the police officer. His lawyers told TASS news agency he was in Russia to study and claimed he had planned to seek citizenship, though earlier reports of the trial say he was just visiting and was traveling to Moscow only to replace his damaged passport before returning home to the US.

The former marine, who had pleaded guilty but insisted "it was an accident" and claimed he was the victim of poisoned vodka, complained the sentence was too strict. The officer who was kicked, Sergei Strelnikov, dropped all charges against him, arguing he had served sufficient time in pre-trial detention. However, the nature of the charge was such that proceedings continued even in the absence of a victim.

Attorney Valeriy Ivannikov said his client plans to appeal or - failing that - propose a prisoner swap with Washington. He may have a chance at freedom through such an exchange, given that another former US marine with a similar conviction was let go earlier this year as part of such a trade. Trevor Reed, who was found guilty of attacking a Russian police officer and sentenced in 2020 to nine years in prison, was released in a prisoner swap in April for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted of drug smuggling in the US in 2011.

Fellow former US marine Paul Whelan, who in addition to his US passport also holds Canadian, Irish and British citizenship, is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, which he continues to deny. Russian officials have reportedly been in talks with their US counterparts for months about exchanging Whelan and WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who is serving 25 years in an American prison. Griner was sentenced in August to nine years on drug possession charges.

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