Constitutional Court OKs restrictions on time for reading criminal file
On 18 January 2012 Ukraine’s Constitutional Court declared in keeping with the Constitution amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code introduced in Law No. 3228-VI from 8 April 2011 which limit the time allowed an accused person and their defence to read the criminal file material.
The Constitutional Court explains that from 1960 Article 218 of the Criminal Procedure Code stated that the accused and their defence could not have the time given for reading all the file material restricted, however if they were clearly putting on the end of the case, the investigator was entitled to set a deadline for reading the file and this was confirmed by the Prosecutor.
In 2003 the possibility of restricting the period was removed from the Code and then reinstated in 2011.
The Constitutional Court states that the periods for reading the file material “should be fixed in each case according to the amount of material and its complexity; the number of acts or omissions (behaviour) which the accused or their defence are accused of, and depending on factors beyond their control (for example, illness) etc.”
The Court states that the time frames should be set by “an independent and impartial court”, and that its decision can be appealed against.
Its judgement is final.
The issue of time needed for reading file material came to the fore last summer when Judge Kireyev rejected certain lawyers in the trial of former Prime Minister and opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko or the latter changed her defence lawyers. On a number of occasions Kireyev allowed extremely short periods for the new lawyers to familiarize themselves with the file material (on one occasion reported here, 3 days for some 5, 000 pages).