Ivan Romanov v. Ukraine’s police, prosecutor and court
Inna Sukhorukova recounts another story of police impunity, involving a young man not only accused of a crime he didn’t commit, serious procedural irregularities and a court trial despite the defendant being recognized as mentally unfit to stand trial.
On 7 June in the evening Ivan Romanov was with another young man, Svyetlikov, in a park. They got into an argument, which turned into a fight, with a group of young people which included some police officers. Svyetlikov managed to flee, and the group, especially the officers, set to brutally beating Romanov. Ivan says that they then put him in the boot of their van and demanded that they show him where Svyetlikov lives. He instead gave them his own address. His mother had already become concerned about her son and gone out to look for him. She saw him in the car, seriously beaten, with two police officers. One of them, Anton Petrenko, began threatening Ivan’s mother and the two officers tried to detain her, but were deterred when the woman began making a fuss. She promised the officers that she would not complain and not call an ambulance, and they handed over Ivan.
However later that night, Ivan’s condition worsened. She is a nurse and decided she had to call an ambulance. Ivan was taken to hospital where numerous injuries were recorded.
Despite this, Ivan Romanov, who has been diagnosed as having schizophrenia since the age of 9 and has been treated each year in a psychiatric clinic, was soon arrested and charged with attempted murder. This was over an alleged attack on a young woman, T. Oleksiyenko who was apparently in the park that evening with another young woman, A. Stronova.
There are clear similarities with the case of Yakiv Strogan – both were accused of attempted murder after themselves being beaten up by police officers.
There is however an additional element of grotesque absurdity in this case since the investigation and “trial” continued regardless of the fact that a court medical examination at the end of August had found Ivan mentally unfit to stand trial.
This did not stop the investigator, Ms Fedorenko who ran the case with numerous infringements, including an identification parade with people not at all similar to Ivan Romanov and with the investigator having Ivan’s photo on her desk. She continued the investigation, without informing the Prosecutor, for 10 days after Ivan was declared mentally unfit, visiting him in the psychiatric hospital, where she wrote out and signed with his hand the protocols.
Nor did the court – Judge Didenko - simply refuse to begin the examination. Only the two young women allegedly involved, and the friend’s sister who hadn’t been in the park at all, were present. A chance witness, Ms. Ryabinina, was also not present and her evidence clearly not taken into account since her description of the assailant bears no resemblance to Ivan Romanov. Nobody from the defendant’s side, not even Svyetlikov, was questioned.
Judge Didenko found Ivan guilty and ruled that he should be held in the Dnipropetrovsk Hospital under strict surveillance.
Ivan Romanov’s mother is a widow and is quite simply not able to travel to Dnipropetrovsk to visit her son, who could end up as a result without medication. There is a similar institution in Kharkiv and it is quite unclear why Ivan should be sent so far away.
The grave infringement unfortunately did not end there since a second defence lawyer, in plenty of time lodged an appeal against the first court’s ruling. This was thrown out as having been submitted too late despite the fact that it hadn’t. They were told when they complained that this had been a mistake, yet the defence’s side were also not informed when the appeal was to be heard, and have had their application for the time frame for an appeal to be reinstated rejected.
There remains cassation level and, of course, the European Court of Human Rights which is increasingly becoming the only way of reinstating violated rights.
The information is from an article by Inna Sukhorukova