From 2 to 12 of October, 2018 in the Obolon district court of Kiev, hearings were held in the case of high treason of the ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. During the sessions, lawyers of V. Yanukovych continued their speeches in debates.
The peculiarity of the stage of debate in this trial was the desire of the court to hear as soon as possible the speeches of the defense. The lawyers of the ex-president had to speak for many hours (often the meeting lasted for 8 hours). Hearings were held almost every day. Because of the rush to hold debates, lawyers and judges had to refuse to participate in other trials (at the time of the hearings in the case of V. Yanukovych). It is worth noting that, according to the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, It is crucial that both the accused and his defence counsel should be able to participate in the proceedings and make submissions without suffering from excessive tiredness (Makhfi v. France; Barberà, Messegué and Jabardo v. Spain).
On October 4, it turned out that lawyer A. Baidyk was hospitalized. Lawyer A. Goroshinsky said that “he was diagnosed and should be hospitalized. According to the information I have, yesterday an unknown person came to the doctors with threats, and today the question has been raised about the forced discharge of Alexander Baidyk. In fact, they are trying to force him out of the hospital”. The lawyer also stated that “there were attempts to obtain confidential information — access to his sick-list — by law enforcement officers”. Such actions show that there is pressure on the defense, with the aim of forcing lawyers to end their speeches as soon as possible and to give the court the opportunity to pass a sentence faster.
After A. Baidyk’s hospitalization, the court decided to listen to the speech of the lawyer A. Goroshinsky. Since A. Goroshinsky entered the process only in September 2018, in his speech he also spoke out about the whole trial against V. Yanukovych. The lawyer recalled that when appointing politician Y. Lutsenko to the position of Prosecutor General (the law was changed for this appointment, since Y. Lutsenko does not have a law degree), he immediately declared that his goal was to “sue” Viktor Yanukovych. A. Goroshinsky also said that the Parliament of Ukraine allowed trial in absentia only in order to “sue” V. Yanukovych.
During the speech of A. Goroshinsky, representatives of the prosecutor’s office repeatedly requested the court to make a warning to the lawyer, since prosecutors considered that events and facts described by the defender to be irrelevant. Such a position of the prosecution is most likely caused by the desire to exert pressure on the lawyer, because the warnings from the court may later become the reasons for disciplinary actions against A. Goroshinsky (up to the deprivation of a lawyer’s certificate).
Despite the fact that the court does not have the right (according to part 4 of article 364 of the Criminal Code) to limit the speech of a lawyer, on October 10, the court interrupted A. Goroshinsky, stating that the lawyer did not meet the deadline for his speech, which significantly violates the right to defense. The request of the defender to give him extra time to complete his speech was denied. The court explained its decision by the fact that A. Goroshinsky demanded recusation of the board of judges, demanded three months to get acquainted with the case materials, etc. basically, the excuse for refusing to give a lawyer the opportunity to end his debate speech is the disagreement of the court with the work methods of the lawyer. However, at the next session, on October 12, the court allowed lawyer Goroshinsky to continue his speech in the debate. The inconsistency of the court, which several times changed its decision regarding the speeches of lawyers of V. Yanukovych, may indicate the presence of pressure on the board of judges.
Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial. Previous materials can be found here.
Expert Council of ISHR