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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Judge Backs Trials in Absentia

The nation's top judge said Tuesday that he supported trials in absentia and said the Supreme Court would submit amendments to provide training for future judges.

Supreme Court chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev said trials in absentia, which until 2002 were allowed only in cases of those accused of crime against the state, would become increasingly common.

"The law has given us the opportunity to try all other criminals in this way," Lebedev said at a conference commemorating the 15th anniversary of the creation of the Council of Judges. Not all judges opt to try in absentia, "but we will develop this practice," he said.

A military court in Rostov-on-Don last week convicted four soldiers of the murders of six civilians in Chechnya. Only one defendant was present at the trial, while the others were convicted in absentia. London-based businessman Boris Berezovsky is to be tried in absentia on charges of theft from Aeroflot.

Lebedev also said the Supreme Court would submit a bill next week for consideration by the State Duma that would establish a new system for training young judges. He told journalists during a break that future judges need to study literature and theater because the have to be "highly educated people."

He said 373 judges were disciplined for infractions last year and 89 dismissed.