Monitoring of the case of Alexander Melnik, Alexander Krizhanovsky, Igor Kunik (hearing on January 18, 2021)

For more than six years, the Gadyatsky District Court of the Poltava Region has been considering the case of the murder of the mayor of Kremenchug O. Babayev and judge A. Lobodenko, in which Alexander Melnik, Alexander Kryzhanovsky and Igor Kunik are accused.

As we know, the case has actually not been heard for four month because of the illnesses of the judges from the collegium.

On January 13, 2021, a hearing was held at which defender R. Lazorenko challenged judges S. Kirichko and L. Tishchenko. In accordance with Part 1 of Art. 81 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine, in case of a challenge to one, several or all judges who carry out collegial proceedings, it is considered by the same composition of the court. But the presiding judge transferred the consideration of this application to another judge of the same court, in direct violation of the law.

Also, it was a regular hearing at which, at the request of the prosecutor, the issue of extending the measure of restraint in the form of detention for another 60 days was to be decided. On January 16, 2021, the presiding judge once again extended the detention until March 16, 2021.

On January 18, 2021, a repeated automatic distribution of the case took place between the judges and instead of Judge E.A. Zakolodyazhna was appointed judge L.V. Maksimenko.

Regarding medical help, the situation has not changed since the last monitoring. Moreover, the last time A. Melnik was examined by doctors on October 22, 2020, at which A. Melnik, according to him, was given two pills, it is not clear for what and why. The doctors then consulted, prescribed treatment, but this information is hidden from A. Melnik. In this regard, the defender filed a claim with the Poltava Regional Administrative Court for failure to provide information about the state of health, and at the moment the proceedings are open.

Article 3 of the ECHR imposes on the state the obligation to ensure that every prisoner is held in conditions compatible with respect for human dignity, so that the conditions of the execution of the measure of restraint do not subject the person concerned to repression or endurance tests that exceed the inevitable level of suffering inherent in detention and that, taking into account the practical requirements of the penalty of imprisonment, the health and well-being of the prisoner are adequately ensured, in particular through the provision of the required medical care (“Kudla v. Poland”, para. 94).

It is worth noting that the Sumy Court of Appeal has not yet considered the defense lawyer’s complaint against the court’s decision of July 29, 2020 on the extension of the measure of restraint, although its validity period has long expired and after that the measure of restraint was extended several times.

Observers of the International Society for Human Rights have repeatedly noted this situation during the monitoring of this case, which has been carried out since 2017, and a similar problem was observed in the case of A. Chibirdin, where the consideration of an appeal of this nature was appointed after the end of the decision and was explained by the workload of the court. On this basis, the fact of violation of the right to a fair trial can be noted. Article 6 of the European Convention states that everyone has the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law in the event of any criminal charge.

The next hearings are scheduled for February 10 and 11, 2021 and the International Society for Human Rights will continue to clarify the details of this case.