Heads may roll over Ivashchenko’s asylum
On 12 March the High Specialized Court rejected the cassation appeal brought by Valery Ivashchenko’s lawyer and left the suspended sentence against him in force. Kommersant – Ukraine reports that the former Acting Defence Minister in Yulia Tymoshenko’s government may become part of a criminal case which could change the suspended sentence into a real 5-year sentence. The newspaper says that while the new sentence cannot affect Ivashchenko who has been granted political asylum in Denmark, a number of officials indirectly implicated in Ivashchenko’s departure abroad could face real criminal liability.
As reported here (more than once!) Ivashchenko’s case was one of those most often mentioned in connection with concerns about selective justice under the new regime in Ukraine. He was convicted on 12 April 2012 of “abuse of position” in November 2009 while Acting Minister of Defence by signing a plan to sell the Feodosia Marine Engineering Works His 5 year sentence, including the 2 years that he had spent in custody was overturned in August 2012. He was freed from serving the sentence with a probation period of one year.
Kommersant’s source asserts that Ivashchenko’s flight from the country led to several investigations and legal processes. The ruling from the Court of Appeal had imposed a number of restrictions, including on travel abroad without permission from the Penitentiary Inspectorate. He was also supposed to meet with an inspector every second Tuesday in the month.
The State Penitentiary Service says that the law does not leave any alternative but to apply for a real rather than suspended sentence.
There can be no question, obviously, that even if Ukraine declared him wanted, that Denmark would extradite him given that he has asylum. However officers from the Holosiyivsky District Police Station are now under fire. Their records, for example, say that they met with Ivashchenko when he was already abroad.
Attempts are also underway to find out how Ivashchenko got hold of his passport. There had been reports that Ivashchenko received permission to travel to Russia, and went from there to Denmark, however Kommersant says their information suggests that in this also procedure was breached.
The newspaper points out that any reassessment of Ivashchenko’s case is also likely to exacerbate relations with the EU which has consisted viewed his prosecution as politically motivated, like those of Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko.