European Council Rapporteur

Publish date: September 8, 1999

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

Russian Supreme Court should handle the Nikitin case in first instance.

The European Council’s Rapporteur on the Nikitin case, Mr. Erik Jurgens, requests in a recent letter the Russian Supreme Court to handle the Nikitin case in first instance.

Last year, a similar request was turned down, on the ground that a first instance Supreme Court hearing would deprive the defendant from his right to appeal a possible conviction. The reason for turning down that request has, however, been removed, Mr. Jurgens points out. Russian legislation has been changed so that also a person convicted by the Supreme Court in first instance has the right to appeal the verdict.

Mr. Jurgens fears that the case may have entered a "vicious circle" where it will be sent back and forth between courts and investigators for years. He also points to the great public importance of the case as a test for the rule of law in Russia, and intends to bring up the case in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe shortly.

The files of the Nikitin case were, in accordance with normal procedure, transferred from the St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office to the City Court on September 6, but the decision on which Court that should handle the case in first instance is yet to be taken.