Court case thrown out over clear signs that police planted evidence
A positive precedent has been created in Kharkiv. Lawyer Oleksandr Byshkov has managed to prove that police officers falsified evidence and get criminal proceedings over alleged possession for sale of narcotic substances dropped. Proving that police planted drugs is not necessarily difficult. The fact that the court agreed to terminate the case is an achievement.
The ruling was passed on June 26 after a fight with the system which lasted three years. Byshkov’s client is a drug addict which the police made use of. Byshkov was able to demonstrate in court that the alleged accomplice and the official witnesses – who had not even been present when the drugs were ‘found’ – were all people that the police had levers of influence over and that they did what the police asked.
The court therefore sent the case for further examination. Since the investigators could not rectify the infringements which the court had pointed to, the criminal proceedings were terminated.
Byshkov believes the case is important for more than just his client. It shows that such infringements can and should be fought against. He says that in the Ukrainian law enforcement and court systems it’s customary for drug addicts to be treated as drug dealers
Hennady Tokarev from the network providing legal aid to people with HIV and to addicts says that the statistics for uncovering crimes from anti-narcotic police units are made up solely from detaining drug users, with falsified cases standard. The Network has existed for three years and in all that time only three cases have been terminated because of falsified evidence. Meanwhile over 15 thousand people end up behind bars every year on charges of possessing drugs and psychotropic substances, more often than not in tiny amounts, or with the drugs having been planted on them.
Lawyers from the Network have addressed an open appeal to President Petro Poroshenko asking him to help ensure changes to the Health Ministry Order from August 1 2000 which would raise the amount of drugs which, if found, results in criminal prosecution.
The Network works in 12 Ukrainian cities and is funded by the International Renaissance Foundation.