12/23/2020 in the Lutsk City District Court of the Volyn region with the participation of Judge Artysh Ya.D. a court hearing was held in case No. 161/3455/18 on charges of Sorokopud N.A. and Omelyanyuk N.V. in the commission of a criminal offense under Part 3 of Art. 368 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – “acceptance of an offer, promise or receipt of an unlawful benefit by an official”. According to the version of the investigation, the defendants, who were members of the attorney qualification commission, back in 2017 received a bribe of more than $ 2,000 for successfully passing of the bar qualification exam.
Before starting the consideration of the case, the judge indicated that a preliminary break was announced in connection with the satisfaction of requests from the public, journalists regarding an open consideration of this case and setting up the broadcast on the official website of the “Judicial Power of Ukraine”.
The lawyer of the defendant Sorokopud N.A. asked the court to attach to the case a number of evidence proving the innocence of his client, namely: information about the telephone calls of Sorokopud N.A. in the period from 09.17.2017 to 09.28.2017; information from the Internet regarding a certain account to which the accused had access; the declaration of the applicant in the case – police officer Khomyuk S.P. for 2016-17; personal characteristics of Sorokopud N.A., issued by the Head of the National Bar Association of Ukraine, the Bar Council of Ukraine. The court admitted this evidence to the case.
In turn, the prosecutor noted that the evidence presented by the lawyer in no way refutes the factual circumstances of the charge. Moreover, the prosecutor believes that the lawyer confuses the court by providing inappropriate evidence, since it does not confirm or establish the facts examined by the prosecution.
After the court suggested that the accused should give evidence, the prosecutor began to petition for time to change the indictment in court. The court granted this request, the defense did not object. But the defense noted that these actions on the part of the prosecutor should take place more quickly in order to avoid delaying the consideration of the case. Moreover, the lawyer pointed out that such a request had previously been made by the prosecution.
The experts of the ISHR suggest that the provision of this kind of evidence to the court, which is not directly related to the prosecution, can be used to delay the proceeding, or to maximize the number of volumes of the case, complicating it. And this, in turn, may have signs of a violation of the principle of reasonable terms of the trial. It should be noted that the indictment was submitted to the court on 03/07/2018. Thus, the case of Sorokopud N.A. and Omelyanyuk N.V. has been considered in court for more than 2 years.
Art. 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms recognizes for every person prosecuted in a criminal case the right to receive, within a reasonable time, a final decision on the justification of the charges against him, or rather to ensure that the accused do not remain for a long time under the weight of the charges and that a decision be made on the well-foundedness of the charge (“Vemkhov v. Germany”, para. 18, “Julia Manzoni v. Italy”, para. 25, “Brogan and Others v. the United Kingdom”, para. 65).
In addition, according to the observer of the International Society for Human Rights, one of the reasons for the delay in the consideration may be a second request from the prosecutor to give time to change the indictment.
The next court session was scheduled for 02/01/2020 (reserve date – 02/10/2021). The monitoring group of the International Society for Human Rights will continue to clarify information on this case.