Pussy Riot members waiting preliminary hearings to resume at court's guard room

Pussy Riot punk band members have been brought to the Moscow Khamovnichesky Court, which continues preliminary hearings in their case, court press secretary Darya Lyakh told Interfax.

"Several minutes ago Mariya Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich arrived in the court's guard room pending continuation of preliminary hearings in their case," she said.

The court is supposed to schedule on Monday a hearing of the case merits. The trio is accused of hooliganism - a scandalous performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The preliminary hearing started on July 20. The hearing was held in the closed-door regime, and the presiding judge extended the custody of the three women until January 12, 2013, by the detectives' demand.

The lawyers made a number of appeals. The prosecution asked the court for time to draft replies, which would be given on Monday. The court will then make a judgment on the appeals and schedule a hearing on the case merits.

On February 21, 2012, the Pussy Riot trio, with their faces covered by masks, staged an anti-Putin performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The incident prompted a broad public outcry.

Police opened a criminal case on the charge of unruly behavior. Three band members - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Mariya Alyokhina - were arrested. Their arrest period was extended several times.

The maximum sentence these women deserve is an administrative penalty for minor hooliganism, human rights activists said. Amnesty International has referred to the three Pussy Riot members as prisoners of conscience.

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