The prosecutor said during the hearing that Griner had deliberately taken the cannabis oil with him. The American uses the oil in the United States for medicinal reasons, but it is banned in Russia. Griner denies knowingly breaking the law. “It was my mistake, but I didn’t plan this crime. I never wanted to harm anyone or break the law. I hope you don’t end my life here with a conviction.”
“If the court deems it necessary to punish Griner, then it must be the mildest punishment,” said her lawyer during his closing plea. The verdict in the case is expected around 4.45 pm Dutch time.
In court, Griner apologized to her teammates, parents, siblings and partner.
The basketball star flew to Moscow because she was going to play for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg between the American basketball seasons. Griner is one of the best basketball players in the world. She has won gold twice in the Olympics and is also a key player for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.
If Griner is convicted, there is a chance that she will become part of a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia. Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan could then be traded for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is detained in the US. The basketball star hopes that all politics surrounding the case will remain “far out of court”. “Everyone is talking about politics, but I hope that doesn’t play a role in this case.”