Today, the St. Petersburg City Court announced that the court would be set again on December 29. The word will first be given to the accused, while the court is expected to announce its verdict later the same day.
The Court has carried out a thorough evaluation of the case. It has questioned Mr. Nikitin, the witnesses and the experts. It has evaluated the open sources to the Bellona-report, the case files and the legal foundation of the indictment, and finally it has listened to the closing speeches of the prosecution and the defence.
The prosecutions case was weak at the starting point and it has been further weakened throughout the trial. From a juridical point if view, there is no doubt that Nikitin should win the case. However, even if the City Court has carried out the proceedings in a fair and equal manner, we do not know if the decision actually will be taken in the courtroom, or if somebody else already has taken it.
If Nikitin is convicted, the consequences might be dramatic not only for him, but for all forces struggling to establish the rule of law in Russia.
December 29, 1999 will be the moment of truth for the Russian legal system. Its faith is now in the hands of the St. Petersburg City Court. Hopefully the Court will be able to live up to its responsibility. The way the proceedings have been conducted might indicate that it will, but very few will know before judgement day.