Medvedev proposes harsher punishments for terrorists and their accomplices

Russian President Medvedev proposed imposing harsher punishments for terrorism and has submitted a bill to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, outlining amendments to the criminal code. It stipulates increasing the length of sentences for those found guilty of terrorism, or the promotion or public incitement of terrorist activities.

A Just Russia deputy Gennadiy Gudkov said that the bill does not outline such term as “intent,” which seems to him to be wrong. He said a person might be declared to be an accomplice of terrorists only if it is proven in a court that the person helped with intent to commit a terrorist act.

Currently, the Russian law says that abetting a crime is a deliberate joint participation of two or more persons in committing an intentional crime.

The term “aiding terrorists” could be misconstrued to mean giving accommodations to or feeding, or washing the clothes of individuals who the purveyor of those particular services had no idea were terrorists at the time.

“In my opinion, for the crime of terrorism, the following model should be created – anyone who assists [a terrorist], regardless of what he does: makes soup or washes clothes, commits a component of a crime”, Medvedev declared.

Dmitry Medvedev added a special explanatory note to Art 205.1, which specifies that the term “accomplice” to terrorism should be interpreted as someone “providing assistance with advice, instructions, provision of information, funds or weapons for committing an offence, or by eliminating obstacles in the way of the offense, as well as promising to conceal the offender, funds or weapons used for committing the crime”. Moreover, a citizen, who promised a terrorist to “conceal items, acquired by criminal means, or promised to buy or sell such items” will also be considered a terrorist accomplice.

Russian Human Rights Institute director Valentin Gefter said that anyone would be tried for anything under backing terrorism as he explains under new amendments there will not be a need to prove intent.

The president left the legal definition of “public justification of terrorism” unchanged: “a public statement acknowledging the ideology and practices of terrorism as being correct, and their need to be supported and emulated”.

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