Monitoring the trial of A. Melnik, A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Pasichny, I. Kunik (sessions 19-21.11.18)

From November 19 to November 21, in the Gadyatsky District Court, sessions were held in the case of the Head of “Vizit” TV Company Alexander Melnik, one of the four accused (along with A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Pasichny, I. Kunik) in the murder of the mayor of Kremenchug A. Babayev and judge of the Kremenchug court A. Lobodenko.

On November 19, a group of activists waited for the beginning of the session. They gathered under court with posters (“When will the perpetrators be punished?”; “We are waiting for 4 years”; “Judge, do not sell your conscience”). It is noteworthy that the activists who are so worried about this criminal process were either on the street or in the courthouse, but did not enter the courtroom itself. The court manager invited them to submit documents, go to the hall and take their seats, but the activists refused to reveal  their identities.

According to the lawyer R. Lazorenko, the police recognized some of the protestors, pointing out that they were students from Gadyach, several more people were taken to court by bus from Poltava, which also raises doubts about their personal interest in the process. In addition, the case is considered in the Gadyatsky District Court for less than six months, and the fact of the unexpected interest of students of Gadyach and Poltava in the case of the murder of the mayor and the judge of Kremenchug that occurred almost 5 years ago may indicate that this action is centrally organized in support of the prosecution. Moreover, the activists could not answer the questions of the journalists who filmed the report on the meeting, nor anyone knew who is accused or whose portraits they hold (portraits of the murdered mayor A. Babaev).

Usually such actions and provocations take place in trials where the prosecution’s party either has no other arguments (the case of V. Muravitsky) or the court’s decision  in favor of the accused is expected (the case of E. Mefedov). Whatever the reason, the International Society for Human Rights condemns any actions that may be perceived by the court as psychological or other pressure to make a certain decision.

On November 20 and 21, activists were also seen near the courthouse. On November 20, the court heard petitions for the extension of the measure of restraint in the form of detention for three defendants and postponed the continuation of the hearing, where it was supposed to hear the petition of the prosecutor regarding another accused and court decisions regarding all petitions as of 21.11.2018. The next day, the court was plastered with posters “Killers of Babaev deserve strict verdict!” and the car of one of the lawyers – Mironov, was pasted over with posters “Defender of the killer.” The activists were detained by the police and a protocol was drawn up. This fact can be regarded as an attempt to put pressure not only on the court, but also on the lawyers.

According to information received from defenders, the defendants since the beginning of November (when the air temperature dropped below zero) complained that they were freezing during convoy to court and back. Recall that they are contained in the Poltava remand prison, and the case is considered in the city of Gadyach, given the poor road conditions, the road takes about two hours. The prosecutor’s office on the complaints of A. Melnik and other defendants in the case replied that due to the absence of the temporary detention center in Gadyach or in the nearest cities, they could not help in this matter. Employees of the convoy, in turn, confirmed that the problem really exists and the special car is not warming up.

On November 27, from Ruslan Lazorenko (attorney of A. Melnik) received information that without having resolved the problem that had arisen with the arrival of cold weather, taking into account the almost daily court sessions (which means a daily four-hour stay in an unheated car), the accused A. Kryzhanovsky was ill with pneumonia , and I. Pasichny – bronchitis.

The International Society for Human Rights is deeply concerned by this attitude towards the accused and the absolute disregard for human rights by law enforcement agencies and the state, which according to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is responsible for the life and health of persons in custody (case of the ECHR “Yakovenko v. Ukraine”). Such disregard for the complaints of persons whose rights and capabilities are limited by a court decision, resulting in consequences in the form of serious illness of the two accused, should be qualified as non-compliance with the principle of respect for human dignity (“Lunev v. Ukraine”). In the case of “Kalashnikov v. Russia”, the ECHR noted that the state is obliged to take measures to ensure that a person is kept in custody in a manner compatible with respect for human dignity. Forms and methods of implementing such a measure of restraint should not cause a person deprivation and suffering to a higher degree than the level of suffering that is inevitable when imprisoned and his health and well-being, taking into account the practical requirements of the regime of imprisonment, must be adequately guaranteed.

The Expert Council expresses the hope that the accused A. Kryzhanovsky and I. Pasichny will receive the necessary treatment and the authorities will be able to provide them with special transport in the future so as not to violate the norms of the European Convention.

The International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this legal process. Previous materials can be found here.

Expert Council