Monitoring of the case of A. Melnik, A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Pasichny, I. Kunik (session 03.14.19)

On March 14, in the Gadyatsky District Court, two sessions took place in the case of Alexander Melnik, the head of “Vizit” TV Company, one of the four accused (along with A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Pasichny, I. Kunik) in the murder of the mayor of Kremenchug A. Babayev and the judge of the Kremenchug Court A. Lobodenko.

The meeting was attended by the member of the Parliament Y. Bublik and the head of the “VEPR” enterprise, who were ready to take Alexander Melnik under a personal guarantee. Earlier, when a defense petition was announced to apply a measure of restraint in the form of a guarantee, the court refused to consider it without the personal presence of potential guarantors. Also, lawyer R. Lazorenko read the petitions of the head of the Committee for the Protection of the Constitutional Rights of Citizens “Vybor” and other public and charitable organizations who were willing to vouch for A. Melnik. The guarantors described the accused as a reliable and law-abiding citizen and stated that the stay for almost 5 years in the remand prison is too cruel to people, given the presumption of innocence. The head of “VEPR” accused the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies of insufficient qualifications, saying that they are trying to falsify the case and are not looking for the real perpetrators of the killings.

The prosecution objected to the bail application. One of the prosecutors said that the lawyers did not indicate in the petition about the missing or diminished risks of A. Melnik’s failure to fulfill his procedural duties. And considering the personality of the accused and the fact that he is “a self-sufficient, well-to-do person,” the prosecution considered that there is no evidence adherence to due process.

Thus, even the fact that a person has property is an aggravating factor for the prosecutor’s office, which contradicts the rules of the CPC and the burden of proof of the prosecution once again shifted to the defense. The lawyer of A. Kryzhanovsky noted that his client in the conditions of imprisonment does not receive proper medical treatment. In court, he is under the influence of an anesthetic and at risk of a heart attack. A. Kryzhanovsky himself said that his relatives give him medicine (about $ 200 worth for 2 weeks), because he does not receive the necessary medicines from the remand prison, he also has to put in IV by himself (earlier, the accused already complained that they themselves had to put in IVs in the conditions of the cell). And in such circumstances, the prosecution systematically filed petitions without justifying the risks, without taking into account the characteristics of the accused, property and other factors.
The lawyers of the other defendants also dismantled all the risks of non-fulfillment of procedural obligations, which were listed by the prosecutor’s office when they filed applications for the extension of the measure of restraint in the form of detention, presenting evidence that such risks were unfounded.

The most controversial basis for the extension of the preventive measure in the form of detention, claimed by the prosecution, is the presence of an uncontrolled territory within the borders of Ukraine. First, problems with ORDLO cannot place a burden on any person who is elected with the measure of restraint, especially since A. Melnik and others are charged with articles of the Criminal Code not related to uncontrolled territories. Secondly, the defendants agree to wear an electronic bracelet, any problems with which are momentarely transmitted to the police console. Thus, the ISHR does not consider the risk of escape to be justified and one that the court may rely upon in making a decision.

It should be noted that, according to the materials of the monitoring of the right to a fair trial (for the last 2 years), prosecutors, in the absolute majority of cases, file petitions that do not meet the requirements of the CPC. In this regard, there are concerns about the reasons and motives for the court to satisfy such petitions in violation of the norms of criminal procedure. The problem of automatic extension of detention is one of the most common and relevant for Ukraine. As part of the analysis of the monitoring materials by the ISHR, the Civil Development Center identified a tendency to deliberately delay some cases in which the accused were deprived of their liberty for a long time and were in the remand prison. Given the attendant problems: not providing with long visits, lack of medical support, escorting in conditions that the ECtHR regards as torture, detention for more than a reasonable time (4 years and 7 months), the ISHR expert council marks this trial as one that does not comply with the principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Prosecutors, in turn, stated that they are not obliged to bring any new risks of the defendants failing to perform their procedural duties, primarily because it is because the accused are in custody that such risks do not arise. The prosecution asked the court not to satisfy the petition of the defense for a personal guarantee for A. Melnik and to change the measure of restraint for house arrest, for the rest of the accused because of the lack of justification for the reduction or disappearance of risks to escape, to influence experts and witnesses, and also because of the public interest in the case. And in his speeches, one of the prosecutors stated that the severity of the charge, which provides for the possibility of life imprisonment, cannot suggest softer measures of restraint, especially personal surety. Such a position is completely contrary to the case law of the ECtHR, which notes that after a certain period has expired (4 years and 7 months cannot be considered a short period), the presence of even reasonable suspicion ceases to be a reason for imprisonment. And in conjunction with the fact that the prosecution has referred to the same grounds for detention, is a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the European Convention (“Buryaga v. Ukraine”). The representative of the victims said that the petitions of the defense were “stated only to declare,” without taking the issue of prolonged detention seriously.

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