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Editor's Blog
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Justice Under Threat Everywhere

Much publicity has been given - rightly- to the Pussy Riots trial in Russia.
Political interference in the judicial process is a huge issue in Russia. Basically, if President Putin decides you should be in jail, that is where you end up living. In the case of Pussy Riots, for two years.
Of course, you might consider yourself lucky to go to jail in Russia. Those who offend the Authorities sometimes don't make it to prison. There are still assassinations in Russia. Most are attributed to organised crime - but who really knows?
So getting justice in Russia is elusive, to say the least.
Flying from Moscow to Washington should, you might like to think, bring you closer to proper justice?
Not really.
Take the recent case of the retired businessman from Kent in England.
Extradited to stand trial for shipping batteries to a destination not approved by the US Authorities/CIA, an elderly man was faced with a "Plea Bargain".
A "Plea Bargain" is basically a process where the Prosecution Authorities persuade the Defendant to submit a plea of guilty and agree in return to recommend to the Judiciary that a lower custodial tariff  than normal is applied i.e. the Defendant spends less time in jail.
I imagine such "bargaining" came into being because of the massive complexity of some cases. Faced with the prospect of perhaps not getting a conviction related to a more serious charge, the Authorities allow the Defendant to admit guilt on a lessor crime. The Defendant settles for this to de-risk the situation. Why take a chance of going to prison for 50 years if one can accept a 5 year term in the plea bargaining process?
In the case of our 60 year old businessman from Kent, imagine his dilemma.
He may well be/consider himself to be innocent. However, at the age of 60, who would risk 50 years in jail when offered a 5 year plea bargain tariff, which, with remission, could see him released in 18 months?
So an innocent man may well, on the advice of his lawyers, admit to guilt to avoid risking what would amount to a life sentence for an elderly person.
Is that justice? Not in my book.
So Russia and the US both have innocent people languishing in prison because of how the legal processes are managed by the Authorities.
Not justice at all then, is it?
















 

Wednesday, 31st October 2012

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