Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed that suspects accused of committing crimes as part of a criminal group should not be allowed to be tried by jury in court.
Speaking at a Security Council meeting in Stavropol, Medvedev said jury trails often failed. “We need to think about teams of professional judges considering these kinds of charges,” he said.
In December 2008, Medvedev signed a controversial law barring suspected terrorists from being tried by jury. The widely criticized initiative was pushed through the State Duma by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia.
Human rights activists and legal experts said the change offered protection to police officers who used brutal methods to extract confessions from suspected terrorists in the North Caucasus.
Leading Russian lawyer Anna Stavitskaya pointed out that judges find more than 99 percent of defendants guilty, leaving jury trials as “an island of independence and hope,” Stavitskaya said.
Furthermore, Medvedev suggested that people suspected of “terrorism” should be tried away from their home region to prevent them intimidating courts.
“If we cannot give the bandits a quality trial in the North Caucasus, we will do this elsewhere – in Moscow, St Petersburg, in Kamchatka,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev told members of Russia’s Security Council that insurgents in North Caucasus should be “wiped out swiftly, in cold blood, and without hesitation.”