ST. PETERSBURG, July 7 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov)  — Replacing death penalty with life imprisonment is an act of pardon and cannot lead to more serious consequences for the convicted person, according to a decision of the Russian Constitutional Court, published on its official website. 

Convict Mikhail Efremov asked to check the constitutionality of the law on amendments to article 24 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. 

As follows from the materials of the case, in June 1991 Efremov was sentenced to death penalty, but in 1993 the sentence was commuted by way of pardon to life imprisonment. However, according to Efremov, this became a tougher punishment, therefore the applied norms violated his constitutional rights.

As noted by the Constitutional Court, before the entry into force of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in 1996, the contested provisions established the possibility of replacing the death penalty by way of pardon with life imprisonment. 

According to the Court, the act of pardoning those sentenced to death is an act of mercy, and by its nature cannot lead to more serious consequences for the convicted person.

The exercise of pardon is enshrined directly in the Constitution of the Russian Federation as the exclusive prerogative of the President of the Russian Federation as the head of state. The act of pardon acts independently, does not require the adoption of any court decision for its execution, is implemented outside the framework of the administration of justice in criminal cases, the Constitutional Court explains.

In addition, the law, the norms of which are being contested, has already lost its force and cannot be regarded as violating the constitutional rights of the applicant in the aspect indicated by him. Therefore, by its determination the Russian Constitutional Court dismissed to examine Efremov’s complaint.