MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, approved a package of bills in the second reading on Friday, broadening the use of the institution of jurors in the country.
Until now, jury trials were held at the level of regional and comparable courts. The bills propose extending the practice of jury trials to district and garrison military courts.
Specifically, the bills propose granting individuals accused of crimes the right to request that their case be examined by a judge and a panel of six jurors in district and garrison military courts.
The legislative initiatives authorize district courts to examine the cases of especially grave crimes, under which "life imprisonment or capital punishment may not be given as the severest punishment."
Under the bills, district courts with the participation of jurors should examine criminal cases involving crimes stipulated by article 105, part two (the killing of two and more persons), article 277 (the attempt on the life of a state or public figure), article 295 (the attempt on the life of a judge or an investigator), article 317 (the attempt on the life of a law enforcer), article 357 of the Criminal Code (genocide), "under which life imprisonment or capital punishment may not be given as the severest punishment," and also the cases involving crimes stipulated by article 105, part one (murder) and article 111, part four of the Criminal Code (the intentional infliction of a grave injury entailing the victim’s death by negligence).
The bills also propose reducing the number of jurors in regional and comparable courts from 12 to 8.
The legislative initiative also proposes a panel of six jurors at the district level.
The bills follow President Vladimir Putin’s speech at a congress of Russian judges on February 16 where the president urged extending the use of juror trials to district-level courts.
"I consider it necessary to extend the sphere of courts’ work with the participation of jurors to the level of district courts, the Russian president said.
Putin said at the same time that this effort was linked with substantial financial costs.
"But I believe, and many will agree with me, that all this financing should undoubtedly be found, if we want to have an improved judicial system influencing the activity of state institutions and a healthier economy. All this needs to be calculated so that we can take a balanced decision," Putin said.