Trial Of Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible postponed


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 15 March 2016


The Vyborg city court attached the Jehovah's Witnesses society to proceedings regarding the prohibition of "Sacred Scripture in the New World Translation" and postponed the hearing until April 2016.


On 15 March 2016 the Vyborg city court began consideration of a lawsuit by the Leningrad-Finland transport prosecutor's office for ruling the "Sacred Scripture in the New World Translation" (2007 edition), that is, the Bible in the Russian translation of Jehovah's Witnesses, to be extremist material. The court agreed to attach the society of Jehovah's Witnesses to the proceedings as an interested party, and it postponed the hearing to 26 April.


The edition of the Bible was impounded by customs in July 2015, and in February 2016 the prosecutor's office sent to the court a lawsuit for finding the edition extremist.


We know the motivation of the lawsuit, however, from our point of view. The New World Translation does not contain indicators of extremism. We generally regard persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia on the basis of anti-extremism articles and the bans on their literature as religious discrimination.


It should also be recalled that in Russia there is a law in effect forbidding consideration of sacred scriptures and fragments thereof as extremist. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 March 2016)



Jehovah's Witnesses joined to the case in third party capacity, 15 March 2016


The session on the case for finding the Bible to be extremist material was postponed until 26 April. ABN [Business News Agency] was told this in the St. Petersburg congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.


None of the interested parties, who might have been able to object to the prosecutor's office's request to find the Bible extremist, was called to participate in the session. "Neither the author, nor publisher, nor shipper" participated in the hearings.


"One should not render a decision without an inquiry. It is necessary to involve interested parties, also," the organization that was supposed to receive the impounded books said.


Judge Roman Petrov of the Vyborg city court agreed with the position of the lawyer for the interested party and in the next session representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses will participate. "We have the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the lawsuit and to get a grasp of the details," the congregation explained for ABN.


However the prosecutor's office spoke out against the congregation's participation in the judicial session. A representative of the office said that Jehovah's Witnesses will not help to understand the case. However the organization noted that the trial is an adversarial process. Therefore in the next session the congregation will come prepared and acquainted with the claims of the prosecutor's office.


We recall that previously the Vyborg customs impounded 59 copies of Sacred Scripture that the St. Petersburg congregation was supposed to receive from their fellow believers in Germany. "Sacred Scripture, New World Translation" is a book that is distributed without cost. It was published in 2007 in more than one million copies of the Russian language translation in all. This scripture is one of the most widely circulated in Russia and it was this one that the Leningrad-Finland transport prosecutor's office requested to find to be extremist. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 March 2016)

Background articles:
Why are Jehovah's Witnesses persecuted in Russia?
March 6, 2016
Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible under suspicion
March 1, 2016

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