Innocent Luhansk resident spent more than three years in prison


Serhiy Lesnyak spent 6 years seeking justice in the courts, three of them as a prisoner. All that time he insisted that he was innocent.

The Pervomaisky City Court however convicted him of murder and sentenced him to 9 years imprisonment. He was released after 3 years and 4 months, due, it transpired, to the lack of elements of a crime in his actions.

Serhiy Lesnyak is now seeking compensation from the State. He says that he had read about court mistakes previously in newspapers and books. When it one day happened to him and he was sentenced o 9 years for a crime he hadn’t committed, he almost went crazy, and even considered suicide.  He held out and was supported by his family, lawyer and fellow prisoners. .They helped him write letters to various bodies.

The mistake made by the criminal investigation unit, the prosecutor’s office and the court cost him 3 years and 4 months wrongful imprisonment.

Valentina Bezrodnya, his lawyers, insists that the State must take measures to fully compensate a person for the moral suffering caused. Or get to grips with the law enforcement agencies so that they have worthy and competent people working for them and are able to properly assess the evidence before them.

Luhansk human rights defenders are appalled by this case which they believe only confirms the fact that the law enforcement and court systems have totally outlived their use. They say that without decisive changes it is practically unrealistic to protect people from a repeat of such cases.

Nikolai Kozyrev, human rights defender, is clear: “While the courts are more inclined to consider the rights of legal entities than individuals, we will not have a civic society and there will not be a real court system which should in the first instance protect the citizen.”

Ukrainian courts estimate a month behind bars as worth 460 UAH (just under 100 USD) in moral compensation. Serhiy does not agree and promises to take this case not only to the Supreme Court, but also to the European Court of Human Rights.


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