Tax Code protester has been in custody for seven months


Serhiy Kostakov has now been unwarrantedly held on remand for seven months. He is accused of having damaged a car during the peaceful protest against the Tax Code in late November 2010O.  The proof for such an offence is widely considered to be questionable, while the grounds for his remand in custody are quite unfathomable

Kostakov’s case was brought up today by Natalia Korolevska, National Deputy from BYUT, who stated that she had lodged an application with the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv to have Serhiy Kostakov released on a signed undertaking not to leave the city. This was turned down. She added that the period of delay is because the police officers who are witnesses in the case do not turn up to give evidence, and says that two hearings have been adjourned for this reason.

With a new court hearing scheduled for 20 June, Ms Korolevska once again applied to the Pechersky Court to change the preventive measure to a signed undertaking not to leave the city.  She announced that a petition has been started among National Deputies in support of this initiative.

She has also turned to the Minister of Internal Affairs asking him to ensure that the police officers do turn up to give their testimony and that they disclose key investigation material to the defence.

Ms Korolevska has sent a request to the Prosecutor General to carry out a comprehensive check of the activities of the law enforcement bodies in investigating the Kostakov case, as well as to the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Nina Karpachova, asking her to intervene.

As reported already, Serhiy Kostakov has been held in custody in the Lukyanivsk SIZO No. 13 since the beginning of December 2010.  All attempts by his lawyer, family and others to get him released on a signed undertaking not to leave the place or with somebody standing guarantor, have been rejected.  From any legal point of view, it is absolutely unclear why since Serhiy is accused under Article 296 of hooliganism. It is claimed that on 22 November he damaged a car driving along a street which the protesters had blocked.  Media reports have suggested that there is no proof aside from the assertion of the car’s driver. The latter did not initially recognize Kostakov among over 200 people, but only “recalled” (or more likely invented this at the instigation of the investigator) a week later.

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