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Russia may extend death penalty moratorium

[JURIST] Russia [JURIST news archive] may effectively extend a death penalty moratorium [Pravda report] for three years if the State Duma [official website, in Russian] passes a bill shifting the deadline for introducing jury trials in Chechnya [BBC backgrounder] from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2010. The Russian Constitutional Court ruled [decision summary] in 1999 that the death penalty cannot be enforced against those who have not been convicted and sentenced by a jury.

Since the moratorium began, Russian courts have sentenced high-profile defendants who would have been eligible for the death penalty to life in prison. Among them was Nurpashi Kulayev [JURIST report], the sole surviving perpetrator of the 2004 Beslan school siege [BBC backgrounder]. Russia implemented the moratorium as a condition of joining the Council of Europe (COE) [official website], the assembly responsible for maintaining human rights and democracy in Europe, heightening scrutiny of Russia's human rights situation and the failures of its judicial system. Earlier this year, Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship [JURIST report] of the COE Committee of Ministers. Interfax has more.

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