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26.06.2013

Justice Without Borders

   

On International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 

The most effective way of supporting victims of torture in Ukraine is to prove that justice can be achieved before the European Court of Human Rights

In the case of the Zaporizhya Church bomb, there are three defendants and seven “confessions”. There is no proof of involvement in the bomb blast in the Zaporizhya Orthodox Church on 28 July 2010.

Anton Kharitonov, a suspended sacristan of the Church, was taken to the police station on the following morning after President Yanukovych issued an order on television to find the culprits within the week. The protocol of detention was only drawn up 13 hours later, around midnight, before the first of four“confessions”. 

Anton’s brother Serhiy Dyomin was taken into custody that night. 24 hours later during a night interrogation he “confessed” to having made the bomb. When explosions experts placed his ability to make such a bomb in question, he confessed to having bought the bomb “from an unidentified individual”.

A second sacristan – Yevhen Fedorchenko – was arrested a few days later and supposedly also confessed.  

All three have retracted these confessions and say they were extracted through torture and threats.

Two forensic psychological assessments effectively confirmed the use of unlawful pressure. Judge Minasov simply ordered a third, which denied any pressure. The judge turned down the application for all three forensic psychologists to be called for questioning. The same judge has ignored serious infringements and turned a blind eye when the prosecution, after a year and a half, changed the indictment to eliminate all three young men’s alibi.

There was no evidence of guilt, plenty of grounds for fearing a grave miscarriage of justice, yet at the beginning of April Judge Minasov sentenced the men to 14 and 15 years imprisonment. The appeal is pending.

There has been no investigation into allegations of torture and other violations of the right to a fair trial.

If you think you’ve heard all this before, you have. So has the European Court of Human Rights. Its position in such cases is unequivocal and totally foreseeable. The use of torture to extract confessions automatically makes a trial unfair and the sentence unlawful. The lack of investigation into all allegations of violence by law enforcement officers is a violation of the European Convention.  Full stop.

There is still time to achieve justice before Strasbourg.  We want to demand a proper investigation now.  More information can be found at Lost in SIZO and No Miracle, No Justice   

Please help by posting this text on social networks and bringing the case to the attention of people in your country.  If you would like to endorse a letter to the Prosecutor General demanding a proper investigation, please write to

 

Halya Coynash

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