Lviv Lawyer achieves “the impossible”
It is next to impossible to get a criminal case terminated in Ukraine through the lack of elements of a crime, yet it is precisely this that Maria Kaminska, a lawyer from Lviv, has succeeded in doing.
The prosecution had claimed that in 2009 Mr D. “unlawfully obtained 3 packets of a substance of plant origin with a green colour … and illegally kept this at his place of residence in order to later sell it”.
By the time Maria Kaminska took on the case, D. had “confessed”; drugs had been taken from him as evidence; and a supposed buyer had also confessed.
Despite this apparently hopeless situation, the young lawyer based her defence on total rejection of her client’s guilt. And she won.
She began her defence by establishing that during the first two days, D. had been held in a police station (which is, in itself, prohibited); had not been given food or drink; that a confession had been beaten out of him; while no procedural moves had been carried out. She proved numerous violations during the detective inquiry (diznannya) and criminal investigation. During cross examination of the supposed buyer and the police she managed to get them to testify against the prosecution’s case, and proved that the administrative detention had been illegal.
She lodged two suits regarding the illegal actions by the police; wrote several complaints to the Prosecutor General’s Office regarding the actions and inaction of the investigators. She managed to get disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office against officers of the police station who’d arrested D.
The decision to terminate the criminal prosecution contains an acknowledgement that “during the pre-trial investigation there were probably cases where demands of criminal procedure legislation were not observed by the detective inquiry and criminal investigators”.
This took 3 years to achieve, with Mara having taken on this case when she still didn’t have her lawyer’s final qualification.
Maria Kaminska is one of the lawyers of the Network for Legal Aid to People with HIV and Drug Addicts.
The Kharkiv Human Rights Group, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, is endeavouring to ensure timely assistance to people from vulnerable groups, including those in replacement therapy and people living with AIDS/HIV.
KHPG invites people needing help or knowing of others to contact or phone ХПГ 057 7006772.