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Russian Police Abuse Trial Delayed As Officer Hospitalized

Police officer Vadim Boiko (left) during an opposition protest in St. Petersburg in July
ST. PETERSBURG -- A St. Petersburg court has postponed hearings in the case of alleged police abuse by the so-called "Pearl Ensign," RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The trial was moved to March 16 because the defendant, former policeman Vadim Boiko, was unable to attend the hearing. Boiko was hospitalized on February 21 for unclear reasons.

Boiko acquired the nickname "Pearl Ensign" after a video of police breaking up a protest on July 31 was posted online. It showed a police officer wearing a white-pearl bracelet insulting and beating demonstrators as well as dragging them by the hair. The officer was later identified as Boiko.

Sergei Cherkasov, a witness to the alleged abuse, said in court on February 25 he is afraid police will arrest him on any pretext to prevent him from testifying.

Boiko, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of abusing his authority as a police officer, could face 10 years in prison if found guilty. He was dismissed from his job and ordered not to leave St. Petersburg until the trial ends.

Read more in Russian here