Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Putin Calls for Fewer Jury Trials As Not Effective As Often Acquit Suspects

Posted by Info on 31/12/2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for further restrictions on the use of jury trials in Russia, saying that only federal courts should consider them.

“Jury trials are not effective,”
Putin said, adding that in certain regions juries base their decisions on ethnic or clannish motives rather than the gravity of the crime. He appeared to be referring to the Northern Caucasus republics, where juries often acquit suspects, mainly in terrorism cases, who complain of being tortured for confessions by local law enforcers.

According to Supreme Court statistics, the acquittal rate in 791,802 cases considered by Russian courts in the first nine months of 2010 was 0.7 percent. Juries considered only 465 cases during the period, finding 847 defendants guilty and 169 people — or about 16 percent of defendants — not guilty.

In the past few years there were several jury acquittals that were highly embarrassing for the authorities. Last month, a jury cleared a group of former Yevroset managers accused of abducting a fellow employee. The case was widely seen as a retaliation by corrupt law enforcers against ex-CEO and owner, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who is fighting related extradition charges in London.

Putin unexpectedly moved on to the jury trial issue after lamenting over a native of the Northern Caucasus who killed an ethnic-Russian football fan in a street brawl in Moscow in early December. The killing sparked nationalist riots in Moscow and other Russian cities.

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