Monitoring of the trial of E. Mefedov

Photo provided by the lawyer 

October 18, in Odessa, a regular court hearing took place on the case of a Russian citizen, an activist of the Odessa “Anti-Maidan” Yevgeniy Mefedov who participated in the events of May 2, 2014 in the Odessa Trade Union House. He is accused of attempts of a forced overthrow of the authorities and infringement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights have begun monitoring this litigation.

Mefedov is one of the activists, who was in a burnt-out house of trade unions, where more than forty Maidan opponents were killed. In the course of studying the materials of the judicial process, facts were revealed that make it possible to assert that the trial of E. Mefedov is being conducted with violation of the right to a fair trial.

Constant “renewal” of charges. The trial of E. Mefedov began in May 2014, during that time several charges were brought against him both relating to the events of May 2, 2014, and relating to the episodes that took place during the stay of the defendant in the pre-trial detention center. Among them, infringement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, an attempt to overthrow the authorities, organization of mass riots,  a threat of murder and use of obscene language in the courtroom. At the same time, each new charge appeared at the time when for the previous one the court decided to change the measure of restraint from custody to a softer one (a bail or house arrest).

“Permanent” detention in contravention of court decisions. During the trial, the court repeatedly changed the measure of restraint  for E. Mefedov, however, the accused did not spend a single day at home. Implementation of decisions on  reducing preventive measures is permanently blocked by: a) the prosecutor’s office, which promptly presents new charges; b) activists of Maidan who picketed the court and blocked the exit from the courtroom to the judges and participants of the trial until the judges changed their decision; c) SBU officers who detained E. Mefedov right in the courtroom, immediately after the court released him from custody. Among  characteristic episodes there was a call with a message that the accused used obscene language in the courtroom, after which the court, having just released E. Mefedov for house arrest, imposed an administrative arrest on him for two days. During this time, information was received that the accused threatened one of the Maidan activists with murder after his release from the Pre-detention centre. This served as the reason for another change in the measure of restraint to E. Mefedov for detention, although no evidence of such threats had been provided to the court.

Pressure on the court and participants in the proceedings. During the process activists of the “Maidan” repeatedly arranged actions both in front of the court building and in the courtroom, not all of them can be characterized as a peaceful  protest.  Thus, in November 2015, after the court decided to change the preventive measure for the defendant to bail (which E. Mefedov’s relatives already  managed to make), those who disagreed with this decision blocked the judges in the courtroom and forced them to file applications on resignation from the posts held. After that, the panel of judges cancelled its decision on changing the measure of restraint for E. Mefedov. In June 2017, activists attempted to attack V. Rybin, the lawyer of the accused.

The course of the last court hearings. On October 11, 2017, when the party of defence was expecting an acquittal, E. Mefedov was charged with organizing mass riots, the court again chose for the defendant an exceptional measure of restraint – detention.  Due to the absence of the lawyer V. Rybin (according to the official version, he could not be contacted, although the lawyer claims that he did not receive any calls or other messages), at the time of the session, the accused was assigned a public defender. The party of defence prepared an appeal against this decision and on October 18 the Odessa Regional Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the court of the first instance and sent the case for  a new consideration, having recognized  detention of E. Mefedov,  performed on October 11, as illegal.

Experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring and clarifying details of this trial.

Expert Council of the ISHR