Scandalous release of ex-MP convicted murderer could accelerate court reform
The words read: Justice in Ukraine
A day after Ukrainians learned that Viktor Lozinsky, the former MP sentenced only 3 years ago to [originally] 15 years for murder had been released early, President Petro Poroshenko has called the release “a diagnosis of the critical state of the judicial system”. Earlier the Interior Minister, Artem Avakov announced that Lozinsky had been detained again. He appeared to be blaming the prison administration for his release, although the latter seems to have acted on the basis of a court order.
As reported, the killing of 55-year-old Valery Oliynyk in 2009 and eventual trial of Lozinsky were very widely publicized. So too was the news this Wednesday that Lozinsky was now a free man. He had supposedly been released on health grounds, but after a court hearing where the State Penitentiary Service had not supported his early release.
Oleksiy Honcharenko reported on Ukrainska Pravda that he had tracked down the court ruling issued on June 3 with 7 days allowed for an appeal. The public learned of Lozinsky’s release on June 11, i.e. when that period had elapsed. The presiding judge was Serhiy Voznyuk who was one of the judges at the beginning of 2014 who stripped drivers of their licences effectively for their involvement in the AutoMaidan protests [part of EuroMaidan]. One of the most exotic aspects of his court ruling is that the application for Lozinsky’s early release was purportedly made both by Lozynsky’s lawyer and by an unnamed person with victim status in the case.
Valery Oliynyk was killed on June 16, 2009 after an encounter with Lozinsky, the former prosecutor of the Holovanivsk district, Yevhen Horbenko, and the former chief of the district police department, Mykhailo Kovalsky who were out hunting together.
The public outrage after details were released led to the Verkhovna Rada stripping Lozinsky of his parliamentary immunity. He was placed on the wanted list and was arrested on March 1, 2010.
He was sentenced to 15 years in April 2011, with this first being reduced to 14 years in spring 2012, and then to 10 years in March 2013. By June 11 2014 he had served 4 years and three months.
Poroshenko’s Press Service reports that the President has ordered a working group to be set up on accelerating judicial reform. It is certainly urgently needed.