Court finds infringements in the criminal investigation against Tax Code protesters
The criminal case involving charges against six people of allegedly damaging the granite on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square] in the centre of Kyiv during the demonstrations against the draft Tax Code late last year has been sent back to the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office to remove infringements during the investigation.
Judge Sydorov from the Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv allowed the application lodged by a former leader of the “Tax Code Maidan”, Serhiy Melnychenko.
The ruling states that, having examined the application and studied the case material, as well as hearing the explanations from the parties to the case, “the court has reached the conclusion that the case should be returned to the Prosecutor’s Office due to significant infringements of the norms of the Criminal Procedure Code”. These included failure by the Prosecutor’s Office to examine complaints by the accused, alleging violations during the criminal investigation, failure to ensure his right to defence thus infringing his procedural rights.
The court also upheld the change in preventive measure to signed undertaking not to leave the city.
The ruling can be appealed by the Prosecutor’s Office in the Kyiv Court of Appeal.
The prosecutions were brought against alleged participants in the small business owners’ protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti against the Tax Code in November and early December last year, Some apparent concessions were made at the time but then the protesters’ tent camp was forcibly dismantled almost the next day. As well as one person remanded in custody for alleged damage to a car during the protest, there have also been arrests and a criminal investigation into alleged “deliberate damage to the State of more than 200 thousand UAH. (roughly 18 thousand Euro)”. The claim is that the accused drove metal pikes into the granite stone on Maidan.
Lawyer from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union who is defending some of the accused, Oleh Levytsky said in a recent interview that the case of the Tax Code Protesters’ Maidan is unique in his legal and bar lawyer practice. He notes that the regime has after 20 years of Ukraine’s existence as an independent entity ventured to concoct what is effectively a 1937-type case (1937 being the worst year of Stalin’s Terror). “For the first time in our history the regime has found a collection of down-and-outs and people who wanted to earn a few kopecks by holding a banner and has accused them of damaging granite covering. This is after the Party of the Regions itself in 2008 erected tents on Maidan, a fair number, if not the most in Maidan’s history, which can even be seen on photographs from the party’s official website.
Now they’ve collected up some innocent people and are stating to the whole world that they’ve found people who entered into a criminal conspiracy to damage the granite stone in the centre of a European capital.”
He added that this was the first time in Ukraine’s legal practice that people are facing criminal prosecution for exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly
New information reported by UNIAN