Tax Code protester finally released from custody



According to Natalia Korolevska, National Deputy from BYUT and Head of the civic organization Vpered [Forward], the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv has changed the restraint measure against Serhiy Kostakov from remand in custody to a signed understanding not to abscond.  The court this time allowed the application endorsed by Ms Korolevska and 23 other National Deputies, as well as an appeal from the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Nina Karpachova.

Serhiy Kostakov had been held in custody since the beginning of December, probably longer than the likely sentence if convicted of the crime he is charged with.  He is accused of having damaged a car during the peaceful protest against the Tax Code in late November 2010.

The prosecution’s case is based on the evidence of 8 police officers. 7 police officers have still not testified, and their failure to appear in court has been one of the reasons why the case has dragged on so long. The video footage has not been shown in court and the accused has had his application to see the video turned down.

Ms Korolevska called the release from custody of Serhiy Kostakov their joint victory and “the result of an active position taken by activists from civic society who did not leave their fellow activist in the lurch”.  She also extended a thank you to the Ombudsperson, Nina Karpachova.

She reported that her organization Vpered is developing a network in the regions of self-defence committees which will help members of the public stand up against arbitrary treatment by regulatory bodies, provide consultations, material on method and legal assistance. There are also mobile public advice centres, she said, and Vpered training centres.

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