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22.05.2011 | Inna Sukhorukova

Free Yury Lutsenko!

   

 

In its Judgement in the Case of Kharchenko v. Ukraine from 10.02.2011, the European Court of Human Rights issued a general conclusion regarding Ukraine’s constant violation of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

The European Court found that Kharchenko’s remand in custody had been unlawful and unwarranted, and separately noted that such infringements were systemic in Ukraine. Unwarranted remand in custody, it said, accompanied a considerable number of complaints in criminal cases.

Ukraine has been told to remove these failings in current legislation and practice which are in breach of the Convention within the next six months. Yet the Ukrainian government is not only not trying to rectify the situation, but are themselves initiating such violations in political cases.

The most flagrant example is the case of former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko. We first have a typical and unconcealed case of political persecution since the criminality of the actions he is charged with is very questionable and the motives are clearly political, and this case is about revenge. Secondly, no facts have been established of Lutsenko having moved from the place he is registered at without the investigator’s permission which is the only grounds for changing the preventive measure from a signed undertaking not to leave to remand in custody (Article 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code). He did not refuse to take part in the investigation and attended the interrogations.

On 21 April the court extended his remand in custody up till 28 May on the same ludicrous grounds as the first time, i.e. that Lutsenko:

1)       was taking too long to familiarize himself with the case material (though by that time he had read all 47 volumes);

2)       did not admit guilt;

3)       had given information to the press about his criminal case.

Now the court demanded that Lutsenko remain in custody until his lawyer had familiarized himself with the material. New and unheard of grounds!  In their analysis, the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights has stated that it is not for the investigator but for the defendant and his lawyer to stipulate the procedure for familiarizing themselves with the case material! And that such a court ruling is a violation of the defendant’s right to a fair trial – Article 6 of the Convention. All of the above-listed actions for which Lutsenko has been deprived of his freedom are his constitutional rights. The court, by holding him in custody, is violating Ukraine’s Constitution and the European Convention!

The court has left Lutsenko no choice but to defend his rights, honour and dignity by means of a hunger strike which he began on 23 April. What other arguments remain when a person has been stripped of his liberty where legal arguments are ignored?

This situation is adversely affecting Ukraine’s image and lumping it together with countries with an authoritarian regime.

We demand:

1)       that Yury Lutsenko be released immediately!

2)       that political repressions against the opposition and dissidents be stopped!

3)       that measures are taken to change legislation and practice in accordance with the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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