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04.05.2007

Seven and a half years behind bars without being sentenced

   

Serhiy Burov from Kharkiv in his way repeated the fate of the legendary prisoner of Chateau d’If . He spent a record time for Ukraine in remand prisons, held in inhuman conditions. He was remanded in the 1990s, released in the 2000s.  No court has yet found him guilty. Serhiy is therefore demanding 12 million UAH for the time spent in captivity.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Serhiy Burov recounts, he was doing well. He was one of the first in the USSR to begin printing wallpaper photos and by 1995 he had amassed 600 thousand US dollars. He recalls that he was then offered protection by both criminals and police officers. He maintains that turning these offers down had fatal consequences – in the summer of 1995 he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The businessman asserts that he is not guilty. He says that he was set up and the law enforcement officers used the fact that his younger brother had friends who were repeat offenders and drug addicts.  Serhiy Burov was charged with killing one of them.  Neither an alibi, nor, he claims incontrovertible evidence of his innocence convinced the investigation unit, and the charge was laid. However in both 1996 and 1998 the Zhovtnevy Court sent the case back for further investigation.

In 2000, the first verdict, now in the Leninsky Court, was issued – 13 years imprisonment.  Over that period Serhiy was only at liberty for six months, when the preventive measure was temporarily changed to a signed undertaking not to abscond. Then there were more court proceedings with the Appeal Court revoking the ruling. The Chervonozavodskoy Court sentenced him to seven and a half years. The case is now again being examined by the Appeal Court. Serhiy was freed from the SIZO [remand prison] in 2004 without a final sentence, having served his seven and a half years. He speaks of the conditions during that time – cells for 120 people, where there is one bunk for three, an hour’s walk a day and brown mush from boiled fish and marrows for dinner.

Serhiy Burov is planning to seek acquittal in the European Court of Human Rights, as well as 12 million UAH in compensation.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group checked the SIZO last year, and found that people awaited sentence there for several years.

Ludmila Klochko, KHPG: “The court can sentence a person to imprisonment, but until the ruling has come into force, the person cannot be considered guilty. This means that he served seven and a half years not guilty. Thus far his guilt has not been proven, and this is entirely unacceptable.”

The Council of Europe has noted that Ukraine is not properly implementing judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights. Compensation is paid, but the failings which led to the judgments against Ukraine are not rectified. Ludmila Klochko believes that a comprehensive approach is needed, in which remand in custody will form the exception not the rule.

Marina Nikolayeva

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