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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court to Rule on Plotters' Amnesty

The trial of 12 men charged with planning the August 1991 coup could end Tuesday, when the Supreme Court is due to rule on whether a parliament amnesty applies to the defendants.


The trial of the alleged coup plotters was billed as the investigation of the century when it began in April 1992, but it has since limped and fizzled into an embarrassing legal farce.


The military board of the Supreme Court is due to meet Tuesday morning to discuss whether to throw the case out immediately under the amnesty passed Wednesday by the State Duma.


The Supreme Court will consider the legality of the parliament order, a court spokesman said, despite the fact that leaders of last October's parliament uprising have already been released under the same amnesty.


The amnesty calls on the court to stop the trial, but the spokesman, Viktor Pavlinok, said Monday that the court might complete the trial and then amnesty the defendants only after they have been convicted.


Viktor Pavlinok said Monday that the court would resolve "contradictions" between the amnesty, which calls on the courts "speedily" to amnesty the former Communist leaders, and Russia's criminal code, which permits amnesties only after a defendant is found guilty.


Dmitry Shteinberg, a lawyer for the former ground forces commander Valentin Varennikov, 70, said he hoped the court would find the amnesty "legitimate" and pardon the defendants, who he said "pose no threat whatsoever to society."


"They have already gotten so tired," he said. "And by the way, I think the government organs have also gotten tired."