On August 14, 2019, in the Korolevskiy District Court of the city of Zhytomyr, a regular court session was held in the case of the journalist Vasily Muravitsky, who is accused of treason and encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine (part 2 of article 110, part 1 of article 111, part 2 of article 161, part 1, article 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) through his journalistic activities. Experts of the International Society for Human Rights continue monitoring this trial.
The course of the session.
Prosecutor Levchenko continued consideration of written evidence and materials obtained as a result of covert investigative actions. The prosecutor provided screenshots of the computer screen as evidence, according to the prosecutor’s office, belonged to the accused. Screenshots of correspondence in the Telegram program were examined, which the prosecutor readout. According to the prosecutor, Muravitsky was involved in organizing conferences aimed at undermining confidence in the government.
The defense of the accused focused the court’s attention on the fact that the materials of the covert investigative actions were received in violation of the CPC of Ukraine, as they were carried out by operational officers without the proper written order of the investigator, and the protocols themselves were drawn up by unauthorized law enforcement officers. Also, holding conferences in Ukraine is not illegal. The prosecutor replied that there were relevant instructions, but they were classified and will be provided later.
The defense side objected to the inclusion of this protocol. Lawyer Novitskaya stated that there was not a single examination confirming that it was screenshots from Muravitsky’s laptop, as well as their authenticity. The court dismissed the motion of the defense to invalidate the evidence.
The court attached evidence of the prosecutor. Then, the prosecutor insisted on a re-examination of the disc already reviewed at previous sessions. When asked by the judge what it was for, the prosecutor Levchenko replied that he wanted to once again focus the court’s attention on certain details.
The lawyer objected to such actions, accusing the prosecutor of delaying the trial, but the court rejected her remark and continued to review screenshots from the disk. When the court asked the prosecutor what exactly he wants to focus on, he answered that the date of the screenshot creation and its availability.
At the end of the session, the prosecutor filed a motion to change Muravitsky’s measure of restraint from round-the-clock house arrest to detention without the possibility of making a bail, arguing this by the fact that Muravitsky can continue to engage in subversive information activities, as well as the severity of the article imputed to him.
The defense side filed a motion to cancel the measure of restraint in the form of a round-the-clock house arrest, which, in the opinion of the defense, cannot last more than 6 months, and about the possibility of making bail and determining its size. The lawyer Novitskaya in her petition stated that there is no tangible and proper evidence of the guilt of the accused, the examinations were conducted with violations, as well as calls by international organizations to stop the persecution of political prisoner Vasily Muravitsky. After the break, the court decided to leave the round-the-clock house arrest for another 60 days until 10.12.2019; the petition of the prosecutor and the defense shall be dismissed. The total term of the journalist staying under house arrest will be 16 months.
In the case of “Navalny v. Russia”, the European Court of Human Rights, having analyzed the fact that the applicant spent 10 months under house arrest, found a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the European Convention. The national court of the Russian Federation did not substantiate the risks of non-fulfillment by the accused of his procedural obligations, including the possibility of escape to evade justice. A similar situation is observed in the case of V. Muravitsky. Having been under house arrest for more than a year (while having a necessity to support the family, including two young children), given the conscientious fulfillment of all procedural requirements, the International Society for Human Rights is concerned about the impartiality of the court.
The next session is scheduled for August 30, 2019. Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial. The previous materials can be found here.