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Russia should bring back death penalty – top investigator

The courts must be allowed to sentence terrorists and child predators to capital punishment, a senior official in Moscow said

The death penalty should be reinstated for certain violent crimes, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee (Sledkom) Aleskandr Bastrykin has said. 

Moscow effectively suspended the implementation of the death penalty in the late 1990s as one of the conditions for joining the Council of Europe.

In 2022, Russia quit the Council of Europe, however, accusing the West of weaponizing the organization to exert pressure on Moscw and trying to impose “its own political agenda and ‘progressive’ values.” 

Speaking at a legal conference in St. Petersburg on Friday, Bastrykin said that “the cruelty of the crimes” that are being committed in Russia has increased compared to the Soviet era. He argued that courts should be allowed to sentence violent criminals, such as terrorists, serial killers, and those who commit crimes against children, to capital punishment. 

“I am a proponent of the death penalty,” the chief investigator said. “Why don’t we lift the moratorium and bring back the death penalty into the law, given that the number of violent crimes is rising?” 

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As an example, Bastrykin cited the March attack on a concert hall in Moscow by Islamic State-linked terrorists, which left 145 people dead. Police have detained several suspects, including all four gunmen who stormed the venue and set it on fire.

“In Soviet times, a person could be sentenced to death for murdering two or three people. As for today, the suspects could be given the maximum sentence of life inprisonment,” Bastrykin said.

According to the head of Sledkom, last year alone, law enforcement investigated 23,700 offenses against children, including 246 murders, 1,870 cases of rape, and more than 6,800 other sex crimes. 

Bastrykin is not the first Russian official to propose the return of the death penalty for especially grave crimes. President Vladimir Putin, however, has so far refused to publicly endorse this idea.

June 30, 2024 at 06:12AM

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