The long verdict, or, the oldest trick in the book

The trial of eight people charged with attacking police during the mass protest on May 6, 2011, has been going on for months in Moscow. The prosecution’s version of the events was largely discredited during the hearing. For the most part, witness testimony painted a picture of police incompetence, possibly deliberate provocation by the police force.

However last Friday the judge started reading the ruling, and the verdict was guilty for all the defendants.

Perfect timing.

To make it clear, the judge’s ruling consists of (1) an introduction; (2) a “descriptive and motivative” part outlining factual and legal findings by the court; (3) the verdict itself, laying out who is guilty of what; (4) the sentences, also called the “resolutive” part. The reading of the ruling can take many hours, sometimes days.

The reading last Friday was delayed by three hours or more for no good reason. The judge gave herself just enough time to go through the first three parts but not part 4. Predictably, part 2 was very much a carbon copy of the prosecution’s indictment – the trial itself was irrelevant to the judge’s conclusions. The guilty verdict was expected as well.

About 200 supporters of the Bolotnaya defendants were detained by the courthouse Friday.

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