From human tragedy to cheap farce


This is how film producer Ihor Chaika describes the five-year-long “Lutyev case”, and not without cause.  As reported here on 15 March this year the Supreme Court revoked the 8-year sentence passed down by the Sevastopol Court of Appeal in 2006 on the Crimean journalist and sent the case back for a new judicial examination with different judges.

Volodymyr Lutyev, a journalist from a local newspaper in Yevpatoriya (the Crimea), stands accused of attempted murder of a deputy Mykola Kotlyarevsky. He was first arrested at the beginning of November 2002, however following considerable protest he was released on a signed undertaking not to abscond in December 2003.  Then suddenly, in June 2005, the Sevastopol Court ruled to remand him in custody where he was held until the sentence in July 2006.  The claimant, allegedly the intended victim, Kotlyarevsky, was not present when the verdict was read out since he was wanted for questioning by the police in connection with two criminal investigations..

There was considerable controversy over the Lutyev case with many believing the charges against the journalist to be linked with his exposure of abuses in the law enforcement agencies.

At one of the new hearings yesterday, material evidence was presented.  At long last, after repeated demands by Lutyev and his lawyers, the court examined an envelope containing ten hundred dollar notes which Lutyev is accused of having paid A. Grachov (the main witness in the case) to kill Kotlyarevsky.

It turned out however during the examination in court, that neither the serial nor the numbers matched those from the protocol of 16 November 2002.  As if that were not enough, some of the banknotes had been printed in 2003!

Lutyev’s lawyer says that this yet again demonstrates considerable infringements of the Criminal Procedure Code during both the detective and criminal investigation stages. This includes violation of the right to defence, the use of evidence constructed with infringements of legislation, incorrect drawing up of protocols and others.

The Mykolaiv Court of Appeal also allowed for the first time the defence’s application to have handwriting tests carried out on the witnesses’ signatures on documents.  Lutyev and his lawyer had been asking for this for two years and question the authenticity of the signatures.

The hearing took place without Mr Kotlyarevsky who had telephoned to say he was too busy to attend. The next hearing is scheduled for 5 December.

Ihor Chaika’s filming team which is preparing a document on journalist investigations into corruption in Ukraine was present during the hearing yesterday.

Information about yesterday’s hearing is from a report by Ihor Chaika at:

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