Monitoring of the trial of Darya Mastikasheva (court hearing 23.05.18)

On May 23, a preliminary hearing on the case of Darya Mastikasheva took place in the Dniprovskiy District Court of Dniprodzerzhinsk. D. Mastikasheva is the citizen of Ukraine accused of high treason by recruiting veterans of an anti-terrorist operation in the east of Ukraine (ATO) to simulate the preparation of terrorist acts in Russia that Russian intelligence agencies could use to discredit the Ukrainian authorities.

Proceeding of the court session. According to the decision of the Appeal Court of the Dnipro region, the court of first instance was forced to reconcile with the “suspicious” indictment provided by the prosecutor’s office (according to which the prosecutor’s office only suspects, but does not accuse Mastikasheva). It should be noted that this is not the first neglect of procedural duties by the prosecution. The first petition, announced by the prosecutor’s office, was the extension of the restraint in the form of detention. At the same time, representatives of the prosecutor’s office did not forward a copy of the petition to the suspect in advance, but confined themselves to sending it to the pretrial detention center, as a result of which D. Mastikasheva could not read the text in advance. From an inconvenient situation, the prosecutor decided to come out in an original way – to oblige judges to record the fact of transfer of petition in court. The prosecutor did not react to the court’s observation that the petition had to be submitted before the court session, and not at the time, and that the judges were not obliged to record such things, the prosecutor did not react and continued to insist on his own. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights note that such an attitude of the prosecutor calls into question the authority of the court and can be regarded as pressure. As in the situation with the indictment, instead of changing the procedural errors according to the decision of the court of first instance, the prosecutor simply filed an appeal.

Concerning the petition for the extension of the restraint, the prosecutor confined himself to the following phrase: I do not want to waste the time of the court, I will only point out that the risks of disappearing and influencing the witnesses have not disappeared and have not diminished, and in my opinion today are still present. Therefore, I ask to satisfy the petition and extend the restraint. According to the European Court of Human Rights, such a position is a gross violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The question of the reasonableness of the detention of a defendant in custody should be investigated in each case, taking into account its characteristics. Long-term detention can be justified only if there are specific signs of a genuine need to protect the interests of society, which, despite the presumption of innocence, outweigh the principle of respect for individual freedom (“Kalashnikov v. Russia”, “Kudla v. Poland”). The European Court has also repeatedly pointed out that the mere presence of a suspicion of a serious crime cannot justify a long period of pre-trial detention (“Scott v. Spain”, “Klyakhin v. Russia”).

Thus, the trend of placing the burden of proof on lawyers, which the experts of the ISHR noted in many trials (in particular, in the case of Melnik, Muravitsky and others) in the case of Mastikasheva also takes place and unfortunately, indicates the unscrupulous  attitude of the prosecution to their duties.

Experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring this litigation. The previous materials can be found here.

Expert Council