Monitoring of the trial of Vasily Muravitsky (session 09/28/18)

September 28, 2018 in the Korolevskiy district court of Zhytomyr, the court session in the case of the journalist VasilyMuravytsky, accused of treason and an attack on the territorial integrity of Ukraine through his journalistic activities, was held. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this trial.

At this session, among others, the question of the measure of restraint for Vasily Muravitsky was raised again. Now a journalist is under house arrest. The prosecutor again prepared a petition to elect the measure of restraint in the form of detention, while the defense wanted to file a petition to change the restraint to personal obligations. One of the reasons that prompted lawyers to request a mitigating measure was the official invitation of a journalist to visit the EU from members of the European Parliament. Of course, while under house arrest, V. Muravitsky could not accept the invitation. According to lawyers, it was the fact that the court could change the house arrest for a personal obligation and thus facilitate the communication of the journalist with European politicians, prompted right-wing radicals to switch from threats and disorderly conduct (the last time the court changed the measure of restraint from detention to house arrest, the journalist was attacked) to attacks. Moreover, the main “target” of the attack was a lawyer – Andrei Gozhy. It was he who prepared and had to file a petition for changing the measure of restraint.

At the very beginning of the session, representatives of the “C14” right-wing organization (whose members repeatedly attacked lawyers and participated in the pogroms of the Roma) came to the court in balaclava covering their faces and, according to eyewitnesses, brought  melee weapons.

During the session, there were threats to the lawyers of V. Muravitsky and to himself. When lawyers asked the court to respond to threats against them, the judges demanded that the “activists” leave the courtroom. But this decision was ignored, which did not bother the judges and they did not insist on their decision, leaving the violators in the courtroom. It is noteworthy that neither the guards nor the police officers were present in the courtroom.

After the court announced a break, while trying to leave the courtroom, A. Gozhiy was surrounded by about 20 representatives of the radical organization “C14” and was attacked. The “activists” attacked a lawyer, pushing him and kicking him. After a while, law enforcement officers arrived, but according to V. Muravitsky, they took a wait-and-see attitude, not allowing direct physical contact between “activists” and lawyers. That did not prevent the hostile-minded representatives of the right-wing organization to threaten, spit at the defenders of the journalist and throw coins (consequently, A. Gozhiy had two cuts on his face). As a result of the fights, the lawyer Gozhiy and the journalist Andrei Laktionov, who was trying to defend him, were taken to hospital. At the moment, a lawyer has filed a statement with the police about attack on him and obstructing advocacy.

This situation is a prime example of violation of the right to a fair trial: pressure on defenders, the presence in the courtroom of aggressive “activists” and other actions can undoubtedly affect the objectivity and impartiality of the judicial process. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly stated that the prosecution and harassment of members of the legal profession “strikes at the heart of the Convention system” (“Elci and others vs. Turkey”, “Kolesnichenko vs. Russia”), bearing in mind the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which is binding on European states, including Ukraine.

The next court hearing is scheduled for October 24th, 2018. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial. Previous materials can be found here.

Expert Council of ISHR