Russian court hears Naama Issachar’s appeal: The confession was forged

The jailed Israeli has several lines of defense, including the claim that she didn’t even know she had 9.5 grams of marijuana in her checked luggage.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Several lines of defense are being introduced by Naama Issachar’s lawyers in her appeal Thursday against her 7.5 year sentence in Russia for drug smuggling after she was caught in April with less than 10 grams of marijuana in her checked luggage on a stopover from India to Israel.

According to a Ynet report, when the judge noted that the 26-year-old had partially confessed to the original charges of drug possession and smuggling, Naama responded that she had never admitted to those charges. There was no translator present when she was asked to sign her confession, she said. This would mean that she did not understand its contents, and she maintained that it was possible that the confession was forged.

She also claimed that she had not bought the drugs, she did not know that they were in her baggage and she had no idea how they got there.

In the written part of the appeal, Issachar’s lawyers said that the translation of her interrogation was of such poor quality that it contributed to her incriminating herself.

Other arguments the defense raised were that she had no intention to mislead the authorities or commit any kind of crime. They pointed out that Issachar had not taken any action to hide the marijuana. She also had no intention to bring it into the country, they said, and did not behave at all like a smuggler would. The fact that it was in her checked baggage as she awaited a connecting flight to Israel bears out this argument.

Another part of Issachar’s appeal is based on the defense’s claim that her rights to a fair trial were violated because she does not speak Russian and did not receive any help from her legal advisers, said the article.

Neither did the original judge take into account her non-criminal background or the level of danger of her alleged crime, which are violations as well. And at its core, her appeal is based on the fact that the general punishment for possessing such a minute amount of drugs is a perhaps a month in jail, a fine and being thrown out of the country, not years of imprisonment.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Russian President Putin several times to pardon Issachar, so far to no avail. At a campaign stop in Haifa Tuesday, he vowed once again that he would get the job done.

“I promise you one thing – I will bring Naama Issachar home,” he said.

Naama’s mother Yaffa, who is attending the appeal, told Ynet that she very much hopes that the court will let her daughter go “today,” so that she can be home for the Chanukah holiday next week.

“I know that things are being done behind the scenes,” she added. “I have no doubt that the prime minister is really doing all he can to free her. But it doesn’t matter what he says, everything is in Putin’s hands. I beg him to let my daughter come home.”