Brittney Griner: Russian prosecutors seek nine-and-a-half year sentence


Russian prosecutors have asked a court to sentence the US basketball star Brittney Griner to almost 10 years in prison on drugs charges. The Olympic gold medallist was detained in February at an airport near Moscow when cannabis oil vape cartridges were found in her luggage. Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational use. Ms Griner, 31, pleaded guilty to drug charges but has denied deliberately breaking the law. A verdict is expected later on Thursday. “I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my life,” Ms Griner told the court shortly after both sides presented closing arguments. “I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added. The trial has reached the top levels of US-Russia diplomacy, with reports suggesting a conviction in the case could pave the way for a dramatic prisoner swap involving the Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout. Russian courts rarely acquit defendants, and analysts say a conviction is highly likely. The length of sentence is thought to be less certain. “I ask the court to find Griner guilty and sentence her to nine years and six months in prison,” prosecutor Nikolay Vlasenko said.(BBC)…[+]