Witnesses forced to give evidence in Russian doomsday prophet case
PENZA, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – Witnesses in the case of Russian doomsday sect leader Pyotr Kuznetsov, whose followers recently spent six months underground, have been forced to testify in court, a Penza Region judicial spokesman said on Tuesday.
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Some 39 witnesses were called by the court, eleven of whom had submitted applications for the case to be considered without their participation.
Although Kuznetsov has already been declared legally insane, the court will attempt to determine his mental state at the time his followers first went underground. Two members of the sect perished in the dugout, one from malnutrition brought about during fasting, and another from cancer.
If the court finds that Kuznetsov was criminally responsible at the time of the group’s retreat from society, the case will be turned over to state prosecutors. If not, charges of ‘creating a violent organization’ will be dropped, and the court will rule on what medical treatment Kuznetsov requires.
Kuznetsov attended the first court session, held in the psychiatric asylum where he has been kept since last year, but was subsequently judged too ill by doctors to take any further part in proceedings.