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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Annals of Russian "Justice": Even the Good News is Bad

The Committee to Protect Journalists said yesterday that it "welcomes the decision today by Russia’s Supreme Court to overturn the acquittal of two suspects in the assassination of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov and order a retrial. The ruling comes six months after a jury at Moscow City Court acquitted Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev of murdering the 41-year-old U.S. journalist. "

The Supreme Court's ruling isn't really good news. Even if it ultimately leads to the conviction of those accused, there is absolutely no reason to trust the Kremlin's claims that they are the killers. Even if they were, is it really good news for Russia that the Kremlin can appeal from a jury's acquittal of those it accuses and then retry the suspects? Have you ever heard of such a thing happening in the U.S.? No? Probably because we have a little thing in the Constitution called "double jeopardy" that prevents a prosecutor from taking several bites at the same apple. Today the acquittal of these two alleged killers is reversed, who the world happens to believe are guilty, and what happens tomorrow if a jury acquits, say, a journalist accused of undermining national security by calling the President a "phallic symbol"?

In Russia, even the good news is bad.

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