News

Reflections on Gutsan’s closing speech

Publish date: December 28, 1999

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

The prosecutor did not surprise anybody with his feeble closing speech. However, his lack of effort has frightening perspectives.

Commentary:

As expected Prosecutor Aleksandr Gutsan did not have much to add to his previous attempts on proving Aleksandr Nikitin’s culpability during his closing speech on December 22, 1999.


In fact he had nothing to add. Gutsan only read the indictment, and concluded that Nikitin should serve 20 years in a labour camp for his crimes, but since he had no previous criminal record, 12 years – the minimum penalty for state treason – was enough. Well, not quite, as he also demanded that Nikitin’s property should be confiscated by the state.


Gutsan’s lack of effort

Even if I had expected the above-mentioned, I was still surprised by Gutsan’s lack of effort. He didn’t say anything related to what had been said in court throughout the trial, and he did nothing in order to counter the arguments of the defence.

  • He did not bother to claim that the foundation of the indictment was solid and in conformity with the Russian Constitution.
  • He did not say that it was proven that there were any state secrets collected by Nikitin in the Bellona-report.
  • He did not bother to try to convince the Court that Nikitin had collected and transferred state secrets to Bellona in order to damage the outward security of Russia.
  • He did not bother to try to convince the Court that Bellona’s real aim is to undermine Russian state security.


    According to Article 49 of the Constitution, Gutsan has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that all these conditions are fulfilled, in order to get Nikitin convicted for state treason, but he did not even try. Thus, rather than being present in Court throughout the trial, Gutsan could have spent his time somewhere else. Then he could have returned on the final day to read the indictment, and adding the term of Nikitin’s imprisonment.


    Frightening perspectives

    No prosecutor should get away with an effort like Gutsan’s. If he acted on his normal level, one can only wonder how many innocent people he has sent to prison. It is outrageous if he really believes that his effort will be enough for a conviction. He is after all supposed to prove that the description in the indictment is true, and that can’t be done only by reading an indictment that does not say anything about Nikitin’s alleged subjective guilt.


    If Nikitin will be convicted on the basis of Gutsan’s efforts, it would actually have been easier if the trial had been called off. Then the conviction could have been carried out ex officio, and the rest of us had been spared from witnessing a show trial – not of the kind that were carried out in Moscow in the 1930’s, but still a show trail.


    Those trials showed the world persons who were forced to confess and a screaming prosecutor demanding that they should be killed “like mad dogs”. The trial in the City Court has been of a different kind, showing us a low-voiced prosecutor and a court that has carried out the proceedings in a seemingly fair manner. However, if also this trial is a show trial, this will have the same frightening perspectives as the Moscow-trials of the past.

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