Monitoring of the trial in the case of the purchase of diesel fuel of the “Ukrainian Railways” Joint Stock Company

On January 28, the High Anti-Corruption Court held a preparatory hearing in the case of the purchase of diesel fuel of the “Ukrainian Railways” Joint Stock Company.

On October 15, 2019, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine approved and transferred to the High Anti-Corruption Court the indictment in the case of the former head of the Production Support Branch of the “Ukrainian Railway” JSC Alexander Kulak and his deputy Daniil Mizin, as well as two more employees. All accused are charged with part 2 of article 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, namely the abuse of power or official position in order to obtain undue benefits, entailing grave consequences.

The prosecution believes that the accused entered into a conspiracy with an unknown person and, in the interests of this person and their own, abusing their official position, unreasonably increased the price of diesel fuel.

At the beginning of the trial, a small incident occurred. The court asked the participants in the proceedings whether they have any motions or objections. After this question, the lawyers filed an objection to the actions of the judges, which indicated that the panel in this composition made it impossible to objectively consider the case by an independent and impartial court, as some of the decisions that had been taken earlier created a procedural “collapse”. As the lawyer A. Boryak noted, the court has stumped itself with its decisions and will now take subsequent decisions guided not by an internal conviction, but by a desire not to make a decision that contradicts the previous one. The contents of this statement could only be found out from the second attempt by the lawyer to read it out, because the court, at the first attempt, tried to prohibit the lawyer from giving any explanations on his application, being guided by the fact that now there is a different stage of the judicial review, although, recall, the court itself asked a question regarding the availability of petitions, making it clear to the parties that this stage is now.

Also, at previous sessions, lawyers raised the issue of returning the indictment because of its inconsistency with the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine. The defense indicated that the data contained in the crime of which the person was charged was not specific. The petition was filed, but there have been no court decisions on it yet. ISHR experts express concern about this fact, since if the prosecutors do not clearly interpret the alleged crime against the accused, the latter will not be able to defend themselves effectively, which certainly can be regarded as a violation of the right to defense.

In a criminal case, the provision of full, detailed information regarding the charges against the person and, accordingly, the legal qualifications that the court can give relevant facts is an important prerequisite for a fair trial (“Pelissier and Sassi v. France”, “Mattochia v. Italy”, “I.N. and others v. Austria”). In addition, the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the charge should be considered in the light of the defendant’s right to be able to prepare for the defense (“Pelissier and Sassi v. France”, “Dallas v. Hungary”).

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor and clarify the details of this trial.

The next hearing will be held on April 27, 2020 at 09:30 am.