Monitoring the Petr Poroshenko case

On July 8, in the Pechersky District Court of Kiev, a hearing was held on the case of the fifth President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko.

This was the third hearing to elect Poroshenko a measure of restraint for Poroshenko.

P. Poroshenko is suspected of having persuaded the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (hereinafter – FIS) Yegor Bozhko to an illegal order, namely, to appoint Sergei Semochko to the post of deputy head of the FIS.

Course of events:

June 10, 2020 – P. Poroshenko was informed of the suspicion on behalf of the Prosecutor General.

June 18, 2020 – the election of a measure of restraint began in the Pechersky Court. Prosecutors announced a petition to choose a measure of restraint for the ex-president in the form of detention, but later changed the petition to a personal obligation.

July 1, 2020 – a hearing was held at which the petition of the prosecutors was considered, but later the judge announced a break in the session.

July 8, 2020 – they continued to consider the petition; at the hearing they began to interrogate two attesting witnesses who were present during the presentation of the suspicion to Poroshenko. The defense asked whether the prosecutors had shown them the decree on the power of attorney to perform procedural actions, but one of them noted that he did not remember this, but allegedly later he saw the original document.

According to P. Poroshenko, the presentation of suspicion to him took place with a number of violations of procedural legislation, which means that there was no suspicion, however, the prosecution did not agree with this. Prosecutors stated that the defense is constantly looking for reasons to avoid obtaining the document. At the same time, the prosecutor points to the fact that all documents are in the materials of criminal proceedings and the defense has the opportunity to get acquainted with them.

Since P. Poroshenko claims that he did not see the aforementioned resolution, the defense considers it as falsification of documents. In particular, in order to hand over the suspicion to P. Poroshenko, the employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office had to show three documents: a report of suspicion, a decree on a power of attorney to perform procedural actions and the very order to carry out procedural actions.

Throughout the hearing, the ex-president accused the prosecutors of committing a crime (falsification of documents), also stated that they would become suspects and be held accountable for this, and pointed out that the prosecutors were following Babikov’s instructions (lawyer of the ex-president V. Yanukovych), Prosecutor General Venediktova and current President Zelensky. Any humiliating phrases of Poroshenko in the direction of the accusation were heard in the courtroom with applause from the activists, as well as shouts: “Shame!” Directly, such actions on the part of the suspect can be regarded as pressure on the prosecution.

Later, after a short break in the session, unexpectedly for everyone, one of the prosecutors announced the completion of the pre-trial investigation, therefore, he believes that consideration of the petition for choosing a measure of restraint is impossible.

The defense drew the court’s attention to the fact that, as follows from the report, the investigation was completed on July 7, at the same time the decision to extend its terms was made by the Pechersky court on July 8, and the prosecutors did not inform the court about the completion of the proceedings.

One cannot fail to point out the fact that “supporters” of the fifth president traditionally gathered next to the court with posters “No to political repression!” etc. As practice shows, such actions can be regarded as an attempt to intervene in the trial and influence the decision-making by the court, because this can be perceived by the judges as psychological pressure. A similar situation was noted by the observers of the ISHR in the cases of V. Muravitsky, A. Melnik, E. Mefedov.

According to the case law of the ECtHR, mere signs of pressure on the court may be enough to call into question the fairness of the trial. If there is a chance that the executive branch may change the decision or suspend its execution, then this deprives the characteristic of an “independent” court (paragraphs 45-55 of the case “Van de Hurk v. The Netherlands”).

Article 6 § 1 of the Convention requires the independence of the court from the other branches of government (i.e. the executive and legislative) and from political parties (“Ninn-Hansen v. Denmark”). Also, the ECtHR notes that the national courts are composed entirely of professional judges, whose experience and qualifications, in contrast to the jury, allow them to resist any external influences (para. 104 of the case “Craxi v. Italy”; para. 75 of the case “Mircea v. Romania”).

As a result, the court left without consideration the petition of the prosecutors to choose a measure of restraint.