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November 10 2009 | RUSSIA


President Medvedev for a gradual abolition of capital punishment

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MOSCA, 9 NOV - Il presidente russo, Dmitri Medvedev, e' favorevole all'abolizione graduale della pena di morte, che e' uno degli obiettivi della riforma giudiziaria in Russia. Lo ha detto Mikhal Krotov, rappresentante del presidente in seno alla Corte costituzionale, che oggi ha cominciato ad occuparsi della moratoria sulla pena capitale in atto in Russia dal 1996, quando l'allora presidente Boris Ieltsin emano' un decreto al riguardo, in concomitanza con l'adesione della Russia al Consiglio d'Europa.

A fine ottobre la Corte suprema ha chiesto alla Corte costituzionale di decidere se i Tribunali russi potranno nuovamente pronunciare condanne a morte dal prossimo gennaio.

Nel febbraio 1999 la Corte costituzionale aveva vietato di pronunciare condanne a morte fino a quando in tutto il Paese non fosse stato completato l'insediamento di corti d'assise e giurie popolari. La Cecenia, ultima regione della Federazone russa a essere ancora priva di tali istituzioni giudiziarie, le istituira' a partire dal prossimo primo gennaio. Questo il motivo della posizione assunta della Corte suprema.

Intervenendo oggi in apertura dei lavori della Corte costituzionale - che ha sede a San Pieroburgo - il rappresentante di Medvedev, Mikhail Krotov, ha detto che la posizione del presidente consiste in una ''abolizione graduale della pena di morte''. ''L'abolizione della pena capitale e' uno degli obiettivi della riforma giudiziaria'', ha aggiunto.

Da parte sua, il rappresentante del governo presso l'Alta Corte, Mikhal Barshevski, intervenendo anch'egli nel dibattito, ha sottolineato che la pena di Morte in Russia di fatto non c'e' piu'. ''La pena capitale in Russia di fatto non c'e' piu'. E questo e' gia' un fatto storico'', ha detto Barshevski, secondo il quale l'Alta Corte potrebbe decidere che l'abolizione della pena di morte nel Paese c'e' gia' stata.

Vladimir Lukin, rappresentante ufficiale russo per i diritti umani, ha osservato da parte sua che la decisione della Corte costituzionale sulla pena di morte avra' un ''carattere storico'' e avra' grande importanza sia per il passato che per il futuro del paese.

La Corte costituzionale emettera' il suo verdetto nelle prossime settimane. (ANSA).



Russian court ponders whether to resume executions

May take a month for court to decide on death penalty * Most Russians favour re-introduction of capital punishment

By Denis Pinchuk ST PETERSBURG,

Russia, Nov 9 - Russia's Constitutional Court began deliberating on Monday on whether to restore the death penalty after a 13-year moratorium on executions expires in less than two months.

Whatever the court decides is likely to provoke heated debate in Russian society, which is split between those who back complete abolition and those who believe the death penalty deters serious crime.

Russia retains capital punishment in its criminal code but has observed the moratorium since 1996.

After two hours of hearings that included speeches by representatives of the president and parliament, the court's 19 judges began closed-door discussions. A spokeswoman for the court said it could take a month to reach a decision.

President Dmitry Medvedev's representative to the Constitutional Court said that "scrapping the death penalty is one of the goals of the judicial reforms being carried out in the country", hinting, however, that it could still take time.

"The position remains unchanged," Mikhail Krotov said during the court's session. "The position of the state and the head of state is a stage-by-stage abolition of capital punishment." Medvedev, who has made establishing the rule of law his top priority, faces a surge in serious crime and increased violence in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus. The President must also take account of public opinion.

Surveys show that between 65 and 74 percent of Russians favour resuming executions, carried out before the moratorium by a pistol shot to the back of the head.

On Jan. 1, 2010, the volatile Caucasus region of Chechnya will become Russia's last region where juries will replace traditional panels of judges in courts, clearing the final formal obstacle to the death penalty's return.

A set of 1990s laws stipulated that the death penalty cannot be applied until the introduction of jurors in all regions.

Russia committed itself to scrapping the death penalty in 1997, when it signed a protocol to the European convention on human rights. But it has never ratified the document, citing strong public opposition at home to the move.

"Despite the fact that Protocol Six (to the European convention) has not yet been ratified, the Russian Federation is obliged to abstain from applying the death penalty until its full abolition," Alexander Kharitonov, who represents the Duma lower house of parliament in the Constitutional Court, told the court.

Russia's close political and military ally Belarus is the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to execute prisoners. Human rights group Amnesty International estimates that about 400 people have been executed since Belarus gained independence in 1991, including four last year.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by David Stamp)




Russian court looks at death penalty ban extension

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia _ Russia's Constitutional Court held hearings Monday on whether a moratorium on capital punishment should remain in force next year.

The Kremlin has said there are no plans to bring back capital punishment, halted 13 years ago when Russia joined the Council of Europe. At the time Moscow pledged to fully outlaw executions, but has not done so yet.

Persistent violence in the North Caucasus region has prompted some to demand the death penalty for those involved in terrorism, and there is also public pressure for convicted serial killers, murderers and child abusers to be executed.

But reviving capital punishment would harm relations with the EU and undermine Kremlin claims that Russia is no less modern than European countries. President Dmitry Medvedev has spoken out about the importance of the rule of law and basic human values.

Representatives of both the Kremlin and Russian parliament attended the Constitutional Court hearings Monday and called for extending the 1996 ban on executions.

This would ensure no confusion when a formal moratorium imposed in 1999 loses its legal foundation in January, when jury trials are to be introduced in Chechnya. The moratorium had specified that courts must not hand out death sentences until jury trials are available in all of Russia's provinces. Chechnya is the only province where they have not been introduced.

The Constitutional Court will likely issue a ruling in a few weeks, court spokeswoman Yulia Andreyeva said.

The Kremlin-controlled parliament has been reluctant to fully outlaw executions, due to broad public support for the death penalty.

Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of legal affairs committee in the Russian parliament's lower house, said that while Russia has signed a European document outlawing the death penalty, it must ratify the document.

«We must put an end to that, ratifying the protocol and amending our legislation accordingly,» he said on state-run Vesti 24 television.



Russie: le retour de la peine de mort en débat devant la Justice

Par Benoît FINCK

MOSCOU, 9 nov 2009 - La Cour constitutionnelle de Russie a entamé lundi un débat concernant l'éventuel retour de la peine de mort l'an prochain, soutenu par une large majorité de la population mais qui contreviendrait aux engagements du pays vis-à-vis du Conseil de l'Europe.

En vertu d'un moratoire qui expire le 1er janvier 2010, la peine de mort n'est plus appliquée mais elle n'a jamais été abolie, en dépit de l'engagement pris par la Russie en 1996 lors de son adhésion au Conseil de l'Europe qui le lui a déjà rappelé à plusieurs reprises.

La Cour suprême russe a demandé à la Cour constitutionnelle d'examiner les moyens de ne pas appliquer la peine capitale après l'expiration de ce moratoire.

"La décision sera prise à huis clos", a déclaré le président de la haute juridiction, Valeri Zorkine, à l'issue d'une audience au cours de laquelle des représentants de l'Etat ont été auditionnés, selon les agences russes.

"L'abolition de la peine de mort est l'un des objectifs de la réforme judiciaire" lancée par le président Dmitri Medvedev après son élection en 2008, a souligné son représentant auprès de la Cour constitutionnelle, Mikhaïl Krotov.

La position du chef de l'Etat consiste à "abolir étape par étape la peine de mort", a ajouté M. Krotov devant la haute juridiction siégeant à Saint-Pétersbourg, qui rendra sa décision avant le 1er janvier.

L'homme fort de la Russie, Vladimir Poutine, s'était prononcé contre la peine capitale en 2007, lorsqu'il était président, la qualifiant de "contreproductive". Mais l'actuel Premier ministre s'était abstenu de demander au Parlement d'agir en ce sens.

La Russie a signé le Protocole 6 de la Convention Européenne des droits de l'Homme, mais il n'a jamais été ratifié par le Parlement.

"Dans les faits, il n'y a plus de peine de mort en Russie", a indiqué le représentant du gouvernement auprès de la Cour constitutionnelle, Mikhaïl Barchtchevski.

"Il me semble que vous avez la possibilité de formuler de manière claire que la peine de mort n'existe plus dans la Fédération de Russie", a-t-il ajouté.

En 1999, la Cour constitutionnelle avait interdit de "condamner" à la peine de mort tant que le système des cours d'assises ne serait pas établi dans tout le pays. Dernière région privée de cette institution, la Tchétchénie doit passer au jury populaire à partir du 1er janvier 2010.

En Russie, une large majorité de la population est favorable à la peine capitale, selon les sondages. Au cours d'une enquête réalisée en septembre par le quotidien populaire Komsomolets, 80% des personnes interrogées se sont prononcées pour.

Mais à la chambre basse du Parlement (Douma), les avis sont partagés.

La vice-présidente de la Douma, Lioubov Sliska, avait souhaité fin octobre le retour de la peine de mort, notamment pour les crimes contre les enfants et les personnes âgées.

A l'inverse, Vladimir Vassiliev, président de la Commission de la Douma pour la sécurité, a émis l'espoir que le moratoire serait prolongé.

Selon lui, 1.600 condamnés à mort se trouvent actuellement dans les prisons russes. "Leur entretien coûte cher à l'Etat" mais l'exécution d'innocents "aurait un prix plus élevé", a-t-il déclaré.

Dans la Constitution russe, il est écrit que "chacun a droit à la vie", mais que "la peine de mort jusqu'à son abolition peut être établie par la loi fédérale en qualité de sanction exceptionnelle our les infractions particulièrement graves contre la vie" des citoyens.

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