Thursday, April 17, 2014

State Duma committee proposal to centralize non-jury terrorism trials in military courts

Reproducing an Izvestia story, the Russian Legal Information Agency reports that the Security Committee of the State Duma has proposed a measure that would send all prosecutions for terrorism, hostage taking, aircraft hijacking, armed revolts, coups, and incitement to and justification of terrorism to three-judge military courts in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don.
Under the current wording of the Criminal Code, juries cannot hear cases under Article 205 (Terrorist Attack), but they can hear other terrorism-related cases, such as complicity in an act of terrorism or membership in a terrorist group.
Izvestia has been told by the secretariat of the State Duma Security Committee that the bill is designed to preclude a trial by jury in terrorism cases. The crimes of terrorism are especially dangerous crimes, and there have been cases where juries have absolved defendants under duress.
A current example of the referral of terrorism charges against a civilian to the Rostov-on-Don military court involves Said Amirov, former mayor of the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala. A court spokesman said
that a few witnesses to the case have claimed that they received threats to their lives. The prosecutors viewed them as adequately serious to justify a transfer of the case to a military court.

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