Council of Europe on the Nikitin case: Panel of judges will not be impartial

Publish date: October 6, 1998

Written by: Runar Forseth

The Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights warns that the procedure chosen for the Nikitin trial

This very strong statement was brought forth by Erik Jurgens, rapporteur on legal affairs and human rights to the Council of Europe, in a letter to the president of the Russian supreme court, dated September 24. The currently chosen procedure appoints one professional judge and two lay jurors to hear the case, giving the FSB the possibility to choose the majority of the panel through its security clearance.

To alleviate the situation, which is prompted in part by there being too few qualified judges in Russia, Mr Jurgens proposes that the current configuration of the preceding panel is changed, so that it will constitute three professional judges instead of one judge and two lay jurors. Professional judges do not need FSB clearance according to Russian law.