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30 Aug 2018

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What does "presumption of innocence" (3rd paragraph) mean?


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Lavrentiy Beria, the most ruthless and longest-serving secret police chief in Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror in Russia and Eastern Europe, bragged that he could prove criminal conduct on anyone, even the innocent.

“Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” was Beria’s infamous boast. He served as deputy premier from 1941 until Stalin’s death in 1953, supervising the expansion of the gulags and other secret detention facilities for political prisoners. He became part of a post-Stalin, short-lived ruling troika until he was executed for treason after Nikita Khrushchev’s coup d’etat in 1953.

Beria targeted “the man” first, then proceeded to find or fabricate a crime. Beria’s modus operandi was to presume the man guilty, and fill in the blanks later. By contrast, under the United States Constitution, there’s a presumption of innocence that emanates from the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments, as set forth in Coffin vs. U.S. (1895).

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