Important acquittal due to police and prosecution infringements
On July 30 the Central District Court in Mykolaiv found a person not guilty of supplying cannabis, with the ruling passed because of the infringements at investigation level made by both the police and the prosecutor. In its judgment, the court directly cites the European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights case law.
The court found that the police had gathered evidence against defendant N. in breach of legislation and international norms.
Defence lawyer Ihor Skalko calls the case a milestone. The attitude of judges to the justice system is changing, he says, adding that this is the first time he has seen a judge examine a case so professionally. Despite the fact that the accused had confessed since he didn’t expect a just ruling and had asked for the case to be examined according to simplified procedure, the judge nonetheless insisted on a full examination.
The judge unusually demanded confirmation of the personal data of anonymous witnesses. Judges usually accept a superficial explanation from the police and prosecutor.
Having analysed the case material, the court established that at the moment of the alleged purchase by the police, there were no serious grounds for suspecting N. of selling drugs. The material gathered at pre-trial stage did not show any sign that N. sold drugs, but only used them. During the operational purchase the police had put pressure on the purchaser and on the accused to commit the crime. When the court asked to question the witnesses to check whether there had been provocation, the prosecution unlawfully refused to provide information about the main witnesses – the purchasers. This all served as grounds for acquitting the defendant.
Skalko is one of the lawyers working for the All-Ukrainian Legal Aid Network for Drug Addicts and People Living with HIV, a project supported by the International Renaissance Foundation.