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12.03.2013 | Halya Coynash

Final Act

   

Help prove that there is justice before the European Court of Human Rights!  Public attention is needed now.

On 14 March the Zhovtnevy Court in Zaporizhya will hear the final words of one of the three young men charged with the bomb blast in the Zaporizhya Svyatopokrovsk Church on 28 July 2010 which killed an elderly nun.  Judge Volodymyr Minasov will then be faced with the most important choice of his judicial career. He can pass sentence in a profoundly flawed case where there is no evidence against the three men aside from multiple and contradictory confessions which all three have retracted and say were made under duress.  Or he can acknowledge that the men’s guilt has not been proven and that the case needs further investigation.

Prosecutor Andriy Kmet has already made his choice and, despite the lack of evidence, the strong grounds for fearing that all defendants were tortured, blackmailed and pressurized into making the “confessions”, has demanded sentences of 15 years for Serhiy Dyomin, and 14 years for two former sacristans of the Church – Serhiy Dyomin’s younger brother Anton Kharytonov and Yevhen Fedorchenko.

Wide public scrutiny, including from the international community, is crucial to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice. 

This case is very high-profile because it began with a demand from President Yanukovych the day after the bomb that the culprits effectively be found within the week.

The first young man was taken into custody 14 hours later.

The first two young men were held in custody for lengthy periods of time before protocols of detention were drawn up. 

Both had “defence lawyers” provided by the investigator who so flagrantly failed to represent their interests that one lawyer later received a formal reprimand and two had their licences suspended for six months.

There were quite simply too many “confessions” which in crucial points as well as detail contradicted each other. Serhiy Dyomin was interrogated through the night 48 hours after being taken into custody. After confessing to making the bomb, he was then videoed demonstrating how. His explanation was ridiculed by explosives experts and by the next afternoon he had “confessed” to having bought the bomb. 

Two years into the trial the indictment was suddenly changed to remove wild discrepancies and a time frame during which all young men had alibis.

Judge Minasov responded to two forensic psychologists’ assessments which found that the accused had been placed under severe psychological pressure, by ordering a third.  When this third inexplicably found no pressure (the transcripts can easily be read), the Judge did not order a fourth and also rejected the defence’s application to call the forensic psychologists in to give evidence.  

All of this and more is detailed in the following:

Lost in SIZO  http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1360672225

Examples of what two psychologists deemed psychological pressure can be found here http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1359383720 and in other texts below.

The list of signatories including former political prisoners, defence lawyers and legal experts not directly involved in the case and others can be found here: http://blogs.telekritika.ua/?id=3202

It is galling to think that these young men will only find justice at the European Court of Human Rights.  There is still a chance that public scrutiny can avert a miscarriage of justice now.

Please help by covering this case, if possible ensuring that a large number of observers and media representatives are present in the court on Thursday, 14 March. 

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