Monitoring of the trial of Vasily Muravitsky (session 27.06.18)

June 27, 2018 Korolevsky District Court of Zhitomir held a hearing on the case of journalist Vasily Muravitsky who is accused of treason and infringement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine through his journalistic activities. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this trial.

In addition to providing the prosecutor with a number of written evidence, two petitions were considered for a measure of restraint for the accused: on the extension of detention and on changing the measure of restraint to house arrest.

The International Society for Human Rights has repeatedly pointed out violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as criminal procedural legislation regarding the measure of restraint for V. Muravitsky. The court took into account the fact that prosecutors once again failed to substantiate the necessity of applying an exceptional measure of restraint in the form of detention, did not prove the impossibility of avoiding the risks associated with the failure of the accused to fulfill their procedural obligations in the event of applying alternative measures of restraint. Based of this, and also guided by the practice of the European Court of Human Rights (which obliges the court to have a good reason for making a decision on the extension of the term of detention; consider alternatives to the detention, and also indicates that the presence of suspicion that a person has committed serious crimes in itself cannot justify a long period of pre-trial detention), the court decided to change the measure of restraint in the form of custody for round-the-clock house arrest.

This is the most significant achievement for the whole time of monitoring by the International Society for Human Rights of the case of Vasily Muravitsky, who spent 11 months in the remand prison. For the Ukrainian judicial practice this is also an important event, since the adoption of a decision on the use of house arrest on articles where the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits other measures of restraint other than detention, has very few precedents. That means that in Ukraine there has been a positive tendency of the courts to apply the norms of international law and the practice of the European Court.

The Expert Council expresses hope that this trend will affect other processes in which the accused are held  for several years in jail in anticipation of a decision on their case (the case of A. Melnik and others – almost 4 years in jail, the case did not begin to be considered in fact; the case of A. Schegolev – almost 3 years; the case of E. Mefedov – 4 years, etc.)

Despite this, it should be noted that for V. Muravitsky, the change in the measure of restraint does not in any way stop and does not change the course of criminal proceedings. The experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring this litigation. The previous materials can be found here.

Expert Council ISHR