Monitoring the case of Elena Zaitseva and Gennady Dronov (session on 08/14/2019)


On August 14, a hearing was held in the Kharkov Court of Appeal to consider the appeals of E. Zaitseva and G. Dronov, accused in the case of violation of traffic safety rules by vehicle drivers, which resulted in the death of six people.

The session began at a pre-announced time and, due to the big interest of the public and many television channels, took place in the largest hall No. 2 of the Kharkov Court of Appeal. Due to its large size and unsatisfactory performance of the auditorium’s audio equipment, audibility within public places fenced off by the barrier was unsatisfactory and some speeches were barely audible, which negatively affected the principle of publicity and openness of justice. But, as stated by the press-secretary of the Kharkov Court of Appeal E. Bondarenko, familiarization with the case materials and the technical recording of the session is possible only for the parties to the case. 

The defendants were in a large “aquarium” (about 16-18 square meters), but limited by the transparent walls, and could not communicate with their lawyers during the trial, except through a few small (about 1 cm in diameter) and inconveniently located holes in the walls of the “aquarium”, which can be equated to torture according to the practice of the ECtHR. Even during the break, they were in the “aquarium” and could not eat. This attitude is contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention, as confirmed by the decision in the case of the ECtHR “Vorontsov and others v. Russia”. 

The essence of the appeal of G. Dronov was contained in the absence of specificity and the inclusion of dubious evidence in the evidence base of the trial court. During the trial, his lawyers drew attention to the fact that the trial court did not conduct a reasonable determination of the facts important for the consideration of the case (which violates the right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the Convention), decision in the case of the ECtHR “Pronin v. Ukraine”, spatio-temporal and causal dynamics of an accident: the speed and direction of movement of cars, the place of collision, what kind of light they drove to the intersection, G. Dronov’s ability to notice Zaitseva’s car at a speed of more than 100 km / h, etc. Also, lawyer of G. Dronov accused the prosecutor’s office of an opaque and prejudiced choice of experts and filed a petition to allow to perform the examination by an alternative organization. The petition was rejected by the court. In appeal by the defense of E. Zaitseva, the defender referred to extenuating circumstances, poor health and shifted most of the responsibility for road accidents to an older G. Dronov. In general, the court rejected the appeals of both parties, upholding the decision of the court of the first instance, except for replacing the joint principle of payments to the injured parties with a partial one. The lawyers of the accused promised to file a cassation appeal after receiving the motivational part of the decision of the court of appeal.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue monitoring this case.