Monitoring the case of Marina Kovtun (01.22.2020)

01/22/2020 in the Kharkov Court of Appeal, a hearing was held on the complaint of M. Kovtun against the decision of the Kiev district court in Kharkov, by the verdict of which she was found guilty of criminal offenses under part 1 of article 263, part 5 of article 27, part 2 Article 258 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. On the totality of crimes, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison with confiscation of all property.

The hearing was attended by the prosecutor, defense, assistant defense, observers, secretary and the panel of judges ( Lyushnya A.I., Savchenko I.S. and Yakovleva V.S.).

The presiding judge stated that the judge V. Yakovleva already participated in this criminal proceeding during the pre-trial investigation, considering the appeal of the lawyer Shadrin A.E. to the decision of the investigating judge on the extension of the terms of detention. Therefore, according to Article 76 of the CCP of Ukraine, Judge Yakovleva V.S. does not have the right to take part in the consideration of this case. On this basis, the judge recused herself. The prosecutor and the defense did not object to self-recusation. The court, having conferred, decided to satisfy the statement of self-recusation and set a new date for the hearing on 02.20.2020.

Cases, which are characterized by a long period of their consideration in the courts of first instance, and, most often, by long periods of detention in custody, always go through the stage of self-recusal of judges on appeal.

In such situations, it is important to keep in mind the reasonable time frames for considering the case. According to the ECtHR, “requiring a hearing within a “reasonable time”, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights emphasizes the importance of administering justice without delay, which could jeopardize its effectiveness and credibility” (“Vernillo v. France”). Marina Kovtun has been in custody for more than five years.

Representatives of the ISHR continue to monitor the case of Marina Kovtun and hope that the consideration of the case in the appeal will not be delayed, as happened earlier in other proceedings. For example, in the case of Mehti Logunov, the consideration of the appeal against the verdict was postponed for more than a year due to the lack of judges, and later because the court hall was not ready to hear such case.