Monitoring of the trial in the case of Vasily Muravitsky (session 01.06.18)

June 1, 2018 Korolevsky District Court of Zhitomir city 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.

During the court hearing, the prosecutor referred to the complaint received from the public, and filed a petition that the court ordered lawyer A.Gozhiy to speak and submit documents in Ukrainian language and demanded that the lawyer be brought to disciplinary responsibility for the use of the Russian language. In response, the lawyer stated that according to the legislation, he is not obliged to use the Ukrainian language, referring to Article 10 of the Criminal Code, Article 29 of the Criminal Procedure Code (which requires only the prosecution and the court to use the official language), as well as the contract itself between him and the client, in which the language of legal services is Russian. Also, A.Gozhiy said that the actions of the prosecutor he perceives as an attempt to influence the attitude of the court to him, since the public prosecutor can directly address with the petition for disciplinary responsibility in bodies of lawyer self-management (for this it is not required to ask the court). The court rejected the petition, but ordered the lawyer to file documents in the Ukrainian language, and also invited the prosecutor to bring an interpreter, if necessary.

During the court session it was also found out that during the search conducted in the house of V.Muravitsky, as witnesses were involved persons brought in advance from another area, and not from the people living nearby. During the search, the lawyer of V.Muravitsky was not present. The search protocol says that the journalist was detained at home, although in fact he was detained in the hospital where he was after the birth of his son. In the opinion of lawyers, this is evidence of the document’s falsity. Also, the defense claims that the examination of some important material evidence (for example, computer technology of V. Muravitsky) was conducted without the presence of witnesses, video fixation was not carried out. This situation creates risks for a fair trial. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) notes the need to take into account the quality of evidence, including, whether there were circumstances under which they were received by those who question their reliability or accuracy.  In addition, the accused must be able to challenge the authenticity of evidence and prevent their use (the case of Jalloch v. Germany). At the same time, the main issue is the fairness of the trial as a whole, including the way to obtain evidence. This also concerns the consideration of the question of the “illegality” of obtaining evidence (the case of Bukov v. Russia).

Many materials collected by the prosecutor’s office (for example, the data of the linguistic examination of articles attributed by the prosecution to V. Muravitsky) were not disclosed to one of the lawyers. Such a situation may contradict paragraph 1 of Art. 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Court of Human Rights indicates that prosecutors are required to disclose to the defense all evidence that the prosecution has, even if they testify in favor of the accused (the case of Velke and Białek v. Poland). The right to adversarial litigation in criminal proceedings means that both the prosecution and the defense must know and comment on evidence presented by the other party (which implies the opportunity to get acquainted with the materials in advance) (the case of Jasper v. the United Kingdom).

The next hearing is scheduled for June 13, 2018. The experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring this litigation. The previous materials can be found here.

Expert Council