Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The filmmaker was found guilty on Tuesday by a Russian court on charges of terrorism.
The international film community, including Stephen Daldry, Mike Leigh, Bertrand Tavernier, Wim Wenders and Jean-Pierre, have rallied around the director of the 2011 film “Gámer.” Sentsov’s controversial trial has been littered with irregularities.
The European Film Academy sent a letter again last week with more than 1,000 signatures to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging for Sentsov’s release.
Despite bruises on his body, investigators have dismissed Sentsov’s claims that he was tortured in custody. The key witness in the case also recently retracted his testimony in court, claiming it been extorted under torture.
The prosecution had called for a 23-year sentence for Sentsov, 39. His co-defendant Alexander Kolchenko, received a 10-year sentence at the same trial.
Sentsov was imprisoned for over a year on charges including terrorism, organization of a terrorist group and arms trafficking before his trial began in late July. He was accused of arson attacks on pro-Kremlin party offices in Crimea and of plotting to blow up a statue of Lenin.
He was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in Simferopol on May 11, 2014, after partaking in protests in Kiev against Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Sentsov had coordinated relief efforts for Ukrainian soldiers blockaded by Russian troops.