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29.08.2013

Zaporizhya Church Bomb Trial Appeal begins

   

The first appeal court hearing in the case of the three men charged with the 2010 Zaporizhya Church bomb took place on Wednesday.  The court questioned Anton Kharytonov, one of the two sacristans of the Church and his lawyer.  The prosecution has claimed that Anton wanted “revenge” after being suspended from his church work.   

Anton seems to have found the questioning bewildering, yet remained adamant that neither he nor the others committed any crime.  He called the Church his second home and said that he had always wished to serve God.  He said that he had succumbed to fear and testified against himself, his brother and fellow sacristan under pressure.

Olha Dyomina, mother of Anton Kharytonov and Serhiy Dyomin says that there were so many people who wanted to attend the hearing that only about half were admitted.  Among those present was Anton Kharytonov’s former class teacher. She has attended all the court hearings and is adamant that Anton could never have committed the impugned crime.  She is convinced that if a Ukrainian court is unable to provide a just ruling, then that will be done in another court of a more democratic state (she is presumably thinking of the European Court of Human Rights).  

The court appears to have not understood why the three forensic psychologists from the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kyiv Forensic Examination Institutes were not called to give testimony.

This, as reported here, is a crucial point.  Two forensic psychologists found that the defendants had all given testimony under strong pressure. They noted the fact that all had been asked leading questions, often effectively fed answers and never asked to give a free account.  One interrogation consisted of 533 questions and answers. 

Judge Minasov simply called for a third assessment which found no pressure.  He then rejected applications to call all three psychologists in to ascertain why there were such discrepancies.

Please see Watch this Case! for a brief summary of the very serious concerns over this case in which there is no evidence only seven “confessions” for three defendants.  All three have retracted the confessions and say that they were obtained through torture, threats, and psychological pressure.  

The next hearing is scheduled for 1 October. 

Halya Coynash
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