On July 2, 2020, in the Ordzhonikidzensky District Court of Kharkov, a hearing was held in case No. 644/192/18 on charges of I.A. Bliznyuk, A.O. Golovkin, Y.M. Khlapovsky in abductions and extortion by an organized group of persons, as well as other criminal offenses (under Part 1 of Art. 255, Part 4 of Art. 28, Part 3 of Art. 146, Part 4 of Art. 28, Part 4 of Art. 189, Part 1 of Art.263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
The majority of the victims were absent at the hearing and no witnesses appeared. The defendants took part via videoconference. In this composition, the panel of judges, after listening to the opinion of the parties, decided to consider the issue of extending or changing the measure of restraint for the accused, and postponing the examination of the evidence.
The prosecutor applied for an extension of the detention of Khlapovskiy Y.M. and Golovkin A.O., as well as the extension of the night house arrest for Bliznyuk I.A. The petition was motivated by the severity of the charges, as well as by the fact that the accused may abscond from justice.
The defendants’ lawyer objected to this request. In particular, he pointed out that the gravity of the charge cannot be the main reason for extending the detention. The defense attorney also referred to the groundlessness of the charges.
The ECtHR has repeatedly noted that the gravity of the charge cannot in itself justify long periods of detention (“Ecius v. Lithuania”).
The ECtHR also often found a violation of paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Convention in cases where domestic courts continued detention, referring mainly to the gravity of the charges and using formulaic language, without even considering specific facts or the possibility of applying alternative measures (“Kharchenko v. Ukraine”, paras. 80-81; “Tretyakov v. Ukraine”, para. 59).
The court, after consulting, decided to satisfy the prosecutor’s request. The next court hearing is scheduled for August 10, 2020. The International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this case.