Monitoring of the case of Terekhov Valery Vasilievich, Kutas Vladimir Viktorovich (hearing 05/08/2020)

On May 08, 2020, in the Kovelsky City Court of the Volynsky Region a hearing was held in case No. 159/2105/19 on charges of Valery Vasilyevich Terekhov (under part 4 of article 187, part 2 of article 353, part 1 of article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and Kutas Vladimir Viktorovich (under part 4 of article 187, part 2 of article 353 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), who are accused of armed assault on a 52-year-old businessman with the aim of taking possession of his property. The International Society for Human Rights has decided to monitor the observance of the right to a fair trial in this proceeding (in the video broadcast mode) due to the complexity of the work of the ISHR observers during the quarantine period.

During the court hearing, the court heard the testimony of a witness who participated in the proceeding from the building of another court and with a change in appearance and voice. However, for technical reasons, an effective interrogation was not possible. The judges did not hear the witness, the content was distorted. The witness was asked repeatedly to repeat what was said. A break was announced to eliminate technical difficulties, but even after that the sound quality did not improve. Nevertheless, the panel of judges continued the interrogation, periodically questioning and clarifying the testimony of the witness. According to the observer, the video broadcast mode did not give the opportunity to hear the witness’s testimony, which cannot mean, of course, that the participants in the trial had the same audibility, but nevertheless, it raises doubts about the accuracy of these testimonies.

The witness’s testimony is important for the criminal proceedings, since it is assumed that he knows the circumstances of the preparation for the commission of the criminal offense according to the accused themselves.

It should be noted that the admissibility and reliability of the evidence underlying that it is of undeniable importance for a fair trial. The quality of the evidence must be taken into account, including whether the circumstances in which it was obtained cast doubt on its reliability or accuracy. In case of doubt about the reliability of a particular source of evidence, the need for evidence to confirm it from other sources is growing (“Dzhallokha v. Germany”, para. 96).

According to the International Society for Human Rights, the testimony of a witness, if there is doubt about their accuracy, cannot be the basis for a court decision. In the event of such doubts, the ISHR believes that a witness should be re-examined under sufficient technical conditions.

The next hearing will be held on June 5, 2020. The ISHR will continue to monitor this proceeding. We believe that it is important how the testimony of the witness obtained in the above conditions will be reflected in the court decision.