A Ukrainian woman jailed for six months for a racially motivated assault against Russians was released after her sentence was shortened on appeal.
The 55-year-old woman was arrested for assaulting participants gathered to celebrate the Russia National Flag Day on 22 August last year in Larnaca while wielding a kitchen knife.
The woman was handed the prison sentence by the Larnaca District Court, with Judge Andreas Louca arguing: “The pain inflicted by a war cannot legitimise anyone to a crime motivated by national or ethnic origin”.
The Ukrainian woman, wielding a knife in a state of intoxication, attacked people who gathered to celebrate Russia’s National Flag Day.
She was convicted on 28 March.
However, a three-member judicial body examining the appeal raised by defence lawyers agreed to reduce her sentence to four months.
The judges examining the appeal said the Larnaca court had not followed proper procedures during the mitigation process for leniency.
The error of principle referred to by the Court of Appeal, according to its 17-page decision, said the lower court failed “established good practice in cases where the accused pleads guilty”.
She pleaded guilty to the remaining charges of common assault against two people, carrying a knife outside the home, being drunk and disorderly, disturbing the peace and carrying a weapon to incite terror.
“The Court of First Instance had to list the facts that would form the basis of imposing the sentence and then listen to the plea for mitigation,” noted the appeal court.
As reported, the 55-year-old Ukrainian had lost her brother during the Russian invasion of Ukraine just weeks before the incident.
However, the lower court had not accepted the defence arguments, noting that a racially motivated assault is unacceptable under any circumstances.
“The attack against a group of people with a knife, solely because of their origin, is a disturbing phenomenon in any modern society.
“Any suspension of a custodial sentence would go against the seriousness of bias-motivated offences and send the wrong message to society,” the Larnaca court had ruled.
The woman was in her Larnaca apartment when she noticed the gathering and, in anger, picked up a kitchen knife heading for the demonstration, where she brandished the knife against two participants but nobody was hurt.