Monitoring of the case of A. Melnik, A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Kunik (hearing 06.24.20)

On June 24, in the Gadyatsky District Court of the Poltava Region, a regular court hearing was held in the case of the head of the television company “Visit” Alexander Melnik, who is one of the three accused (together with A. Kryzhanovsky, I. Kunik) in the case of the murder of the mayor of Kremenchug A. Babaev and judge of the Kremenchug court A. Lobodenko.

At this hearing, the defense provided the court with evidence that is related to the murder episode of the mayor of the city of Kremenchug Babayev Oleg Maidanovich.

Attorney Mironov, attached to the case documents of financial relations between the victim Shlyakhova (wife of the mayor Babayev) and other persons, as well as materials of the trials between them after the murder, which, according to the defense, should be taken into account by the prosecution during the investigation of the case.

In addition, the defense directly speaks about the schemes of taking possession of the property of the mayor Babayev, indicates who (in the opinion of the defense) and under what circumstances carried out these schemes, the implementation of which began shortly before Babayev’s death and continued after the murder.

These data can speak not only of the presence of motive among the interested persons, but also of another justified version of the murder.

In the Decision of the Supreme Court dated 01.21.2020 in case No. 754/17019/17, it is stated that the existence of a different version of events is the basis for reasonable doubt about the proof of guilt.

The Supreme Court recalled that the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt means that the totality of the circumstances of the case, established during the trial, excludes any other reasonable explanation of the event, is the subject of judicial proceedings, except that the alleged crime was committed, and the accused is guilty of committing this crime …

This issue must be resolved on the basis of an impartial and unbiased analysis of the prosecution and defense of admissible evidence supporting or against one or another version of events.

The duty of a comprehensive and impartial examination by the court of all the circumstances of the case in this context means that in order to find guilty, which is proven beyond reasonable doubt, the prosecution’s version must explain all the circumstances established by the court that are relevant to the event that is the subject of the trial. The court cannot disregard that part of the evidence and the circumstances established on its basis only for the reason that they contradict the prosecution’s version. The presence of such circumstances, for which the prosecution’s version cannot provide a reasonable explanation or indicating the possibility of the existence of another version of the incriminated event, is the basis for reasonable doubt about the proof of the person’s guilt.

To comply with the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it is not enough that the prosecution’s version is only more likely according to the defense’s version. The legislator requires that any reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s version of the event be refuted by facts established on the basis of admissible evidence, and the only version that an intelligent and impartial person can explain the totality of facts established in court is the version of events that gives grounds for finding a person guilty on the charge brought against him.

The court did not include all documents of the defense in the case. The materials of the defense, which were provided as corroborating an alternative version of events, different from the one incriminated by the prosecution, were not included. The court motivated by the fact that the documents are not adequate evidence, that is, such that they do not relate to this criminal proceeding.

We believe that the assessment of the evidence by the defense, the court should give in the deliberation room, during the sentencing. Otherwise, the court will not be able to take into account the version of the defense, which the court is obliged to investigate, and the prosecutor – to refute.

On June 25, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the complaint of the accused Kunik about the prolonged and unjustified detention.

In accordance with §§ 35-38 of the ECtHR “Bevz and Others v. Ukraine” (on the Kunik application), the Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of the proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case at hand and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the relevant authorities, and what is at stake for the applicant in the dispute.

In the main case, “Merit v. Ukraine” (no. 66561/01 of 30 March 2004), the Court found a violation in respect of issues similar to those examined in the present case.

Having examined all the materials presented to it, the Court did not find a single fact or argument capable of persuading it to come to a different conclusion. Having regard to its case-law on this point, the Court considers that in the present case the length of the proceedings against the applicants was excessive and did not meet the “reasonable time” requirement.

Accordingly, there have been violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Earlier the ECtHR ruled on the complaint of the accused Pasichny. In § 9 of the ECtHR case “Levchenko v. Ukraine”, the court examined all available materials and ruled that in this case the length of the applicants’ pre-trial detention was excessive.

It should be noted that the International Society for Human Rights asked the court to video broadcast the hearing of June 24, 2020. The Gadyatsky District Court provided the broadcast, in connection with which the ISHR is very grateful for the openness of the court towards the human rights community.

The next court session is scheduled for July 14, 2020.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial.