Russia trials without juries unfair to accused: Khodorkovsky

[JURIST] Russian trials decided by juries are currently restricted, creating hopeless situations for those accused of crimes who choose not to plead guilty, according to former oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] on Friday. In a statement [text] released on his defense website, Khodorkovsky, who is currently on trial for embezzlement, expressed his hope that this, his second trial, will turn out completely different from his first, writing:

Today one who does not plead guilty, unless his case is tried by a jury court, is guaranteed to make his situation significantly worse because:

- He will get a guilty verdict
- His jail term will be extended, AND
- There will be no hope for early release.

I believe that people ready for such a sacrifice for the sake of the truth, deserve public attention.
This statement comes just months after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile] signed into law amendments allowing trials for treason and terrorism to be adjudicated without juries [JURIST report]. Khodorkovsky is expected to play a stronger role [RIA Novosti report] in his own defense in his upcoming trial. Khodorkovsky's trial, as well as that of his former business partner, Platon Lebedev, is due to begin March 31.

Pre-trial arguments began earlier this month [JURIST report]. Critics have claimed that the charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are politically motivated due to Khodorkovsky's opposition of former Russian president Vladimir Putin [JURIST news archive]. The transfer of the two from prison to Moscow to stand trial on the new charges was ordered [JURIST report] last month by a judge for the District Court in Moscow. Khodorkovsky still maintains that his 2005 conviction [JURIST report] on the fraud and tax evasion was unjust, and maintains his innocence. He requested early release from that sentence last July, but his application was rejected [JURIST reports] in August because he disobeyed guards at the Krasnokamensk penal colony [Guardian backgrounder], refused to participate in a training program, and faced the possibility of additional charges. Khodorkovsky has appealed [JURIST report] that decision.


 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.