Monitoring of criminal proceedings of Nelia Shtepa (hearings 10.07.2020, 10.16.2020)

On October 7 and 16, 2020, two court hearings in the case of Nelia Shtepa were supposed to take place in the Ordzhonikidze District Court of Kharkov. She is charged with encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, resulting in the death of people and the creation of a terrorist group or organization.

The hearing did not take place on October 7th, since the judge – Glibko O.V. was on sick leave. And on October 16th, the defense side already filed a motion to postpone the hearing, referring to the introduction of strict quarantine (red zone in Kharkov).

It should be noted that in the case of Shtepa Nelia, the representatives of the ISHR are already monitoring the 7th court session (08.17, 09.04, 09.10, 09.18, 09.27, 10.07 and 10.16). Three of the designated hearings actually took place but were devoted exclusively to procedural issues. The remaining four did not take place for a variety of reasons – the involvement of lawyers in other criminal proceedings, the involvement of the accused (Shtepa Nelia is running for the post of mayor of the city of Slavyansk, and she had to go to the Central Election Commission), a hospitalization of a judge and the introduction of strict quarantine (postponement on the initiative of the defense).

Thus, hearings in this case are more often rescheduled than occurring.

The ECtHR reiterates that it holds the State responsible under the “reasonable time” aspect of Art. 6 for the delay in the delivery by the judges of their decisions (“McFarlane v. Ireland”, § 121). However, the length of the proceedings must be assessed in the light of the specific circumstances of the case, taking into account the criteria set out in the ECtHR’s case-law, in particular the complexity of the case, the behavior of the applicant and the competent authorities, and the importance to the applicant. (“Chiarello v. Germany”, § 45).

The representatives of the ISHR believe that the responsibility for considering a case within a reasonable time in this case cannot be assigned only to the state. As we can see, the postponement of three of the four analyzed sessions took place on the initiative of the defense.

The next court hearing is scheduled for October 29, 2020.