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03.11.2009

Hardly commensurate compensation

   

The Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv has found that in the case of Vadim Hladchuk, all were at fault – police, the court and the Prosecutor’s office.  It awarded damages of 125 thousand UAH, which neither Mr Hladchuk, nor his lawyer, Oleh Levytsky, consider in any way sufficient. The case after all involved real criminal prosecution, and not a regrettable judicial error.

As reported back in 2007, Vadim Hladchuk, the Head of the civic organization “Youth are the Hope of the Nation” and colleagues picketed the Tender Chamber of Ukraine for a month. They were demanding that a stop be put to the blocking of a government website for tender advertisements not under the control of the Chamber itself. They also alleged corrupt dealings by the honorary head of the Chamber Oleksandr Tkachenko, a National Deputy [MP] from the Communist Party.

Vadim was detained by police on 1 August and charged with a robbery involving construction instruments which had taken place two years earlier. He had been in Kyiv throughout that period but had received no summons or any other communication from the police.

Human rights groups reacted very promptly, roundly condemning what they feared might be a return to the old tactics of intimidating those in power and big business interests before the elections.  Volodymyr Yavorsky from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union particularly called on the media to ensure that this case was not hushed up. 

After two initial extraordinary decisions first to remand Vadim in custody on 3 August, then to extend the period of detention (on 10 August), sanity and the rule of law began to reassert themselves. On 16 August the Kyiv Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against the decision to remand Vadim in custody, then on 30 August, the same court which had initially sanctioned remand for a person who had been at liberty for two years blithely unaware of any suspicions (or of any crime), threw the case out.

This does not alter the fact that Vadim Hladchuk was held without grounds in a pre-trial detention centre [SIZO], since the original court extended custody to 10 days.

Mr Hladchuk and Oleh Levytsky have lodged an appeal with the Kyiv Court of Appeal.  They are claiming compensation for the unlawful actions of the police, court and Prosecutor’s office of around 470 thousand UAH.

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