Monitoring the trial of the case of V. Yanukovych (brief information about the court hearings on 05.06.18 and 06.06.18).
On June 5 and 6, 2018, in the Obolonsky District Court of Kiev, court hearings were held on the case of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, accused of high treason. During the court hearings, the question was again raised regarding the presence of pressure on the court by representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, as well as questions regarding the organization of interrogations of witnesses who are abroad.
Pressure on the court. Lawyers of V. Yanukovych filed another petition for pressure on the court by the General Prosecutor’s Office. According to the defenders of the ex-president, public statements by the representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine regarding the timing of the decision in the court of first instance call into question the independence of the court. In response, the presiding judge stated that there was no pressure and suggested not adding a petition to the case materials so as not to “overload” it. Lawyers were asked to clarify what is meant by “overloading” the case materials. According to the judge, lawyers constantly declare about some terms of decision-making (which are voiced by representatives of the government), and when they (the terms) pass, they submit another petition for pressure on the court. Lawyer V. Serdyuk clarified that the statement on the timing of the decision was made by Deputy Prosecutor General E. Yenin on the air of one of the TV channels, to which the judge advised the defender to watch less TV. The petition was not accepted. The analysis of the media confirms E. Yenin’s statements regarding the timing of the decision on the ex-president’s case in court. On May 8, 2018, the Deputy Prosecutor General declared: “The criminal process within this case enters its final stage and literally within a week or a month it will be possible to count on the verdict of the first instance of the court”. At the same time, the Prosecutor General Y.Lutsenko indirectly confirmed the existence of negative consequences from this kind of public statements, saying that he talked about it with his deputy.
In this situation, it is important to pay attention to the position of the European Court of Human Rights (the case of Sovtransavto v. Ukraine), which notes that in matters of interference in the judicial process, it is not so much thinking about the influence that these interferences may have on the course of the proceedings, how much validity of doubts of defense and / or accused about independence and impartiality of the court. Repeated statements by the authorities about the timing of the decision on Viktor Yanukovych’s case, as well as the court’s specific reaction to the lawyers’ statements on this issue, only increase the doubts about the independence of the court. From the point of view of the right to a fair trial, an important factor is the confidence that courts in a democratic society should inspire the public and, first of all, in relation to criminal proceedings, the accused (the case of Sahiner v. Turkey).
Organizational difficulties with the interrogation of witnesses. During hearings also questioning of witnesses continued. The lawyers explained that the length of interrogation of witnesses was caused by the position of the court that refused to allow to interrogate witnesses (located outside Ukraine)via videoconference done according to the procedure of international legal assistance. Therefore, the witnesses have to go to the Crimea, so that they can then give evidence in the format that the court insists on. All this requires additional time.
It is worth noting the statement of V. Yanukovych with a demand to invalidate the evidence attached to the case during participation in the process of the lawyer of the center of free secondary legal aid I. Lyashenko since he fulfilled his duties only formally, without contacting the client and not agreeing with him his legal position. The experts of ISHR have repeatedly stated that such participation of public defenders can lead to negative consequences and calls into question the observance of the right to a fair trial. The statement of the accused indicates the vulnerability of this litigation, which can be challenged subsequently.
Experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring the trial. The previous materials can be found here.