Monitoring the case of Sergeyev and others (11/18/2019)

On November 18, 2019, a session was held in the Kommunarsky District Court of Zaporizhia on the case of drivers from Makeevka Sergeyev and Gorban, as well as three employees of the Zaporizhzhya Social Security Administration: Voloshina, Khokhotva and Semenyuk, who are accused of financing terrorism. On April 24, the court released the drivers from custody without measures of restraint after 2.5 years in a pre-trial detention center.

The victim in the case is the Pension Fund, whose representative was present at the hearing.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this lawsuit.

The interpreter for Sergeyev was again not present at the hearing on November 18, 2019, however, the accused and his lawyer did not object to the consideration of the case without the participation of the interpreter.

During the trial, three prosecution witnesses were questioned.

Two witnesses provided explanations regarding their current or earlier apartments. The first witness said that unknown people tried to get into her apartment once, explaining that they were supposedly registered there. At the same time, relatives of the already deceased stepfather were present, who lived in the apartment for several months in 2017, but they did not open to outsiders. The apartment is now empty, the witness did not hear about the visits of social services to the address. She had not seen the accused before, she does not know anything about the charge brought by them. In addition to relatives, no one lived in the apartment.

The second witness, answering the questions of the prosecutor about the apartment that he owned until 2017, said that the apartment was on lease, he did not remember the name of the residents, they were probably refugees, he did not remember whether the social services came or did not see correspondence intended for him. He does not know the accused.

The third witness is an employee of Oschadbank in the city of Volnyansk, who worked in 2016 as a leading economist and was engaged in customer service, opening accounts and cards. Of the accused, she knows only Gorban as a driver who brought refugees to draw up cards. She saw him in the department a couple of times, he also asked for a phone to get to know each other. Refugees approached a free specialist with documents. The fact that these are refugees was understood by registration, as well as by the fact that people usually came in one or two, and if several people came in, then the next minibus arrived. Gorban just came in with people and waited, did not oversee anyone, did not ask to open an account without the presence of a person, all clients were photographed with documents.

The head of the board asked the prosecutor what the rest of the witnesses, for whom the court had previously passed a decision on the location. The prosecutor explained that he was ready to refuse from two witnesses – one of whom was outside Ukraine, working in Poland, and the other died. The prosecutor promised to personally control the appearance of three more at the next hearing. For two more elderly witnesses who cannot appear in court because they can’t walk, the prosecutor promised to find out their position.

Also, the presiding judge again raised the issue of the delivery to the court of unexplored material evidence, namely, two cars seized from drivers upon arrest.

According to observers of the International Society for Human Rights, this session was held without violations, but it should be noted that the trial has been running for the third year, which may run counter to the principle of considering the case within a reasonable time and the norms of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. According to the ECtHR, it is the national authorities that must take “the measures provided for by law in order to discipline the participants in the proceedings and ensure that the case is considered within a reasonable time” (The judgment of the European Court in the case of “Kushmierek v. Poland” of 21 September 2004, complaint N 10675/02, § 65).

The next session will be held on December 17, 2019.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial.