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    Putin: Russia Plans to Expand Practice of Holding Trials by Jury

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    Russia needs to expand the capabilities of trials by jury, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the course of a meeting with human rights ombudsmen in Moscow.

    MOSCOW, December 5 (Sputnik) – Russia plans to expand the practice of holding trials by jury instead of the current practice of holding them with only jurors presiding court cases, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

    “We need to expand the capabilities of trials by jury and of course we are working on that,” Putin said during a meeting with human rights ombudsmen in Moscow.

    This came in an answer to a comment by the head of Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights NGO established during the Soviet era back in the 1970s. Lyudmila Alekseyeva reminded Vladimir Putin that the role of jurors in Russian courts had decreased by half over the past few years.

    Calls for jury trials to be more widespread and play a greater role in the Russian justice system have been heard since the reintroduction of trial by jury as part of groundbreaking judicial reform in 1993. The goal was to fight the court's strong bias in favor of prosecutors and to bridge the gap between ordinary people and the legal system.

    People standing accused of serious crimes now have the option of a jury trial consisting of 12 jurors, who are selected by prosecutors and defenders from a list of up to 40 candidates. However Russian lawmakers have been continuously revising the list of criminal offenses that merit a jury trial, slowly chipping away at the number over the years.


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