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Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
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27.05.2020 | Andrey Didenko
The right to a fair trial

People from “different planets”. Could a pastor be a killer?

It’s wedding photo of Yaroslav Mysyak. He has been in prison for 22 years on charges of triple murder. Human rights activists consider Yaroslav innocent.
   

Blessed Augustine in the 4th century AD noted that a state without fair justice is not a state, but a gang of robbers! Although this truth is old, it is still relevant today.

Extraterrestrials

It never occurred to you that the people we meet every day on the streets, the ordinary citizens, and those whom they give the authority – both live in differently dimensions of life? The first and second hardly overlap with each other. Ordinary people mostly watch their chosen ones on TV screens, on newspaper pages and on the Internet, but without feedback.

It gives the impression that the powers that be live on one planet, conditionally it can be called “Power” – this is a planet of peace, prosperity and security, and ordinary people live on the planet called “Electorate” – this one is a planet of constant struggle for survival: debt, problems, disorder, atrocities and constant horrors. Horrors represent social injustice and problems: this is an increase in utilities, fuel and heating prices, the quality and prices of consumer goods, but the most importantly – it is the chronic indifference of the inhabitants of the planet “Power”.

Or maybe you have observed such things when a person lives on the planet “Electorate”, as they say, in the general mass, and after the election moves to the planet “Power”, receives the appropriate status, immunity, “vaccination” and as a result becomes unattainable and distant?!

Why does it happen that when this people get to the planet «Power» they forget about the problems of other, ordinary people?

In order to complete the picture of the world, it needs to add one more planet to the previous two – the planet “Prison”, on which live prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. Why this category of convicts is chosen as an example? In order to demonstrate against this background the whole depth of the gap, which is as follows: the inhabitants of the planet “Power” are very far from the problems of the inhabitants of the planet “Electorate”. But this is only the half of the problem. The second half is that both powerful and ordinary people are infinitely far from problems of condemned people which are on the sidelines of society and life in general.

These on the planet “Electorate” are convinced that on the planet «Prison» live exclusively scum and villains. Condemned will never convince those who are free, the opposite. One status of “life imprisonment” speaks for itself. It says that the convicted person is dangerous for society and he wasn’t shot only because the humane and fair state introduced a moratorium on the death penalty at one time. Beyond social processes, this is a framework beyond which ordinary people and powers-that-be do not even look, they are not interested in what it produces there, it is even worse: when some kind of brutal and bloody murder happens from time to time, then planet «Electorate», and from the planet “Power” demand to use the death penalty!

So who are these – convicts?

Having settled the terminology, let’s try to find out what is happening there on the sidelines of life. There are probably necessary to realize and understand two things for all people on , the different planets – and those who are free, and it is especially important to realize those people who are in power. The first thing is that everyone should understand that those convicted, even those sentenced to life imprisonment, are people and citizens of Ukraine. Both the state and society are responsible for their life and health. The second thing that everyone needs to realize is that the legal and judicial systems in our country (Ukraine) – it is extremely imperfect, the courts pronounce less than one percent of acquittals, and therefore it is very likely that a certain number of people sentenced to life imprisonment is serving a sentence for crimes that they did not commit, as well as convicts whose punishment is too severe, based on the actual circumstances of the case.

To understand who those condemned are, you need to be at least one day in prison status when the whole system works against you. To understand what the convict feels, it is necessary to endure all this hatred of the whole system, starting from the junior inspector of the prison service to the leadership of the institution, representatives of the supervisory authorities.

Even those top prisoners, whos imprisonment were watched by the whole world, such as People’s Deputy Yulia Tymoshenko of Ukraine and former Prosecutor General of Ukraine

Yuriy Lutsenko, they did not fully feel all this on themselves. They didn’t eat the “balada” and didn’t live in the stinking smoky cells, they didn’t feel the hatred experienced by ordinary people serving their sentences. From their stay in captivity, these “VIP prisoners” made informational occasions for the media. Perhaps that is why they quickly forgot about the fate of those people who for years are kept in improper, incredibly cruel conditions on the other side of the barbed wire.

People’s deputies do not even want to hear about prison issues, this topic does not interest them, because it is not suitable for public relations. Finding themselves at freedom and into parliament, the deputies forgot about their promises to serve people. Deputies think in completely different categories and on different scales, and therefore they have different priorities.

Why is this happening? There are various reasons for this. First of all, because the inhabitants of the planet «Power» and “Electorate” are primarily concerned about their own problems: the former have achieved their goal and are in a state of euphoria and narcissism, their consciousness is drowning in feelings of their own significance and impunity. The second envy the first, and dream of at least somehow approaching the planet “Power” in order to make their own efforts to develop, if not for country, at least for their own success. Meanwhile, on the third planet “Prison” all is stable – its inhabitants are slowly dying.

What to do?!

People have long been accustomed to the lies of deputies and political expediency. People are used to the fact that public servants do not fulfill their functions. People are used to the fact that the court, instead of reaching a fair decision, can easily send to jail an innocent person. Prosecutors “put on the mask” of a staunch supporter of the law, and present a charge in court that does not hold water, because the case is fabricated and everyone knows about it. The defendant knows his client did not commit a crime, but when the lawyer provides evidence of innocence, for example, witnesses who can confirm the alibi of the defendant’s innocence, no one hears. The Court sees the case “sewn with white thread”, playing in the same team with the prosecutor he also «puts on the mask» of virtue and justice, and takes a deliberately unjust decision.

After the decision of the Court of first instance, the higher Court absolutely consciously approves this ridiculous accusation and makes a decision that is no longer subject to appeal, and sends the person to the scaffold, approving the death sentence.

A moratorium saves Yaroslav from execution, the death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment. Yaroslav has been proving to the system for 22 years that he is innocent.

The struggle with the state system has continued for 22 years, but all is in vain, because when the Court made a decision and it entered into legal force – this is the end of the story! No matter what arguments the convict has in favor of his innocence, no matter what arguments his lawyer makes, speaking of an alibi or the groundlessness of the arguments of the prosecution, or the fabrication of case materials and juggling of evidence – all this is useless! Nothing can be done, the Court verdict in Ukraine cannot be canceled.

We have repeatedly focused on the fact that in Ukraine for 10 years there has been no procedure for reviewing criminal sentences that cause reasonable doubt in their justice.

But despite everything, Yaroslav continues to believe in the justice of the law for 22 years. He also believes that Ukraine is moving towards the implementation of the principles of the rule of law, and therefore one cannot be punished with innocence, and the doors once will open and he will be free. Meanwhile the sentence once passed – the death penalty – is being carried out, but slowly and without a chance for justice. We have repeatedly emphasized that in Ukraine for 10 years there is no procedure for reviewing criminal sentences that raise reasonable doubts about their justice.

Pastor sentenced to the death penalty

We continue to tell the stories of those sentenced to capital punishment, these are sentences in respect of which, to put it mildly, are unfair and without any chance of being examined by a fair Court.

Yaroslav Misyak was born in a Christian family. He graduated from the Kiev Theological College named after St. James. For some time he worked at the Bible College of the city of Uzhgorod, as well as the assistant bishop of evangelical churches in the Transcarpathian region for work with Christian youth.

Of the 45 years lived 22, that is half of his life, Yaroslav is serving a sentence on a dubious sentence, and those who committed that terrible crime remained unpunished.

Yaroslav was accused of killing his relatives – grandfather, grandmother and uncle. The motive for the crime was not specified in the verdict of the court of first instance, and the Supreme Court in its decision indicated an unfriendly relationship as the motive for the triple murder. This is a rather strange motivation, if you keep in mind that a priest is accused of committing that crime .

On October 18, 1999, by the Transcarpathian Regional Court (court of appeal) Yaroslav Misyak was sentenced to capital punishment – to death by execution. The Supreme Court, without wasting time, approved this death sentence. The life of Yaroslav was saved by a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Yaroslav’s lawyer Yuri Vakula notes: The verdict is based on assumptions and fabricated evidence, on confessions that were obtained by using the threat of violence to both Yaroslav and his family. The findings of the experts do not correspond to the actual circumstances of the case and are not supported by evidence presented at the hearing.

Since 2015, it is the sixth year the review of the sentence has been ongoing under the new circumstances by courts of the Transcarpathian region. It is a violation of all reasonable time limits for considering a case in court.

That terrible night, Yaroslav was preparing for the holiday in the church. He prepared a script for a theatrical production based on famous biblical events. The theme of the production was the burning of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. (As it is known from the Holy Scriptures, because the sins overflowed these cities, the Lord destroyed them so that people would turn to God). Yaroslav that night painted for each participant the production of his role, rewrote, verified and rewritten by hand again. The work took a lot of time. Yaroslav went to rest when it was far after midnight. The rest of that night Misyak spent in his house with his wife Snezhana and daughter.

Before this tragic event, Yaroslav lived for almost a month in the house of his grandfather and grandmother. Yaroslav’s uncle, the last is the son of Yaroslav’s grandfather, lived in the same house. Uncle lived on his own. Uncle got in touch with bad people from Yugoslavia, to whom he owed money. Uncle was constantly looking for some unfamiliar men. Grandfather was afraid for the life of his son. He decided to sell his house in order to repay the debts of his son.

For almost a month living in the house of his grandfather Yaroslav watched as some men were looking for his uncle. At the time when these people came, uncle was hiding in the attic, and Yaroslav or grandfather met with them, they went to the Yugoslavs and asked to wait until they would sell the home to pay off their uncle’s debt to them. Grandfather found a buyer, they agreed on a price, and grandfather took a deposit. The grandfather asked Yaroslav to be present when calculating and receiving the first part of the money. Finally, the deposit was received and the money transferred to repay the uncle’s debt. It remains to receive and to pay the second part of the debt.

Returning home, that night, Yaroslav had a terrible dream, he dreamed that his parents had died. In a depressed state Yaroslav shared his anxiety with his wife. Suddenly in the morning police officers arrived at Yaroslav’s house, talked about the terrible tragedy, invited Mysyak to the police station to testify as a witness. In soon from a witness Yaroslav turned into an accused.

No one wanted to investigate that crime, while preparations were underway for the elections, so the investigation quickly settled on Yaroslav’s candidacy. Two searches were conducted in the apartment of Mysyak, searches were carried out by the SBU and the criminal investigation department. During the searches not a single thing that proved guilty or blood stains on Yaroslav’s clothes were found. But during the third search, in a prominent place in the boiler room in a bag lay trousers with two spots of blood, which DNA was not examined, in spite this type of blood belongs to thousands of people. At the same time Yaroslav was tortured. He broke down and signed a confession. Yaroslav did that when law enforcement officials said that they would crack down on his wife and young daughter. Then, in the case, the instrument of crime appears – this is a knife that was found in a sewer pipe, where someone had allegedly thrown it, as it claimed the investigator, by the direction of Yaroslav.

“I never went the way where the knife was found, the plan-map was drawn and the knife appeared the next day at the specified coordinates,” the convict said. “Then the lawyer comes by appointment and the guilty plea is repeated on video, then the pants in the package are removed, and the weapon is removed the next day.”

Lawyers argue that it was impossible to strike blows of that nature by the knife with the found one. Representatives of the prosecutor’s office ignore the version of the involvement in the commission of the crime of citizen G. and other persons who, according to witness Sh., were drunk at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. Witnesses also claim that these people carried a cold steel with a length of approximately 40 centimeters.

Yaroslav’s lawyer, Yuri Vakula, notes: “When deciding on the verdict, the Court groundlessly ignored the alibi of Mysyak, which was confirmed by two witnesses. The conclusions of the experts of the Department of Forensic Medicine of the NMU of Ukraine named after A. Bogomolets, containing data on the possibility of changing the size of wounds, characteristic of all physical and technical studies, which at that time were not known to the parties to the trial, indicate the erroneous explanations of the expert – they exclude the possibility of applying specified wounds with a found knife, and then refute the information of the confession.”

Here is what Yaroslav tells about those terrible times when he almost broke: “If you write complaints to the court, they beat you for it. They beat not only me, but many. This was practiced by law enforcement officials for prevention; the purpose of these events was to stop writing. On the other hand, when you write to the courts of all instances, and you do not receive an answer, or the answer is negative, your are to give up. In this state, I once told my wife to leave me, so that she could find another person while she was young and beautiful.”

But faith in God helped Yaroslav and his wife Snezhana to survive and not lose faith in justice: “I am not going to give up and will go to the end,” – this is that says Yaroslav now.

We also do not give up hope that finally in Ukraine people from “different planets” will hear and understand each other. Power-that-be and deputies will begin to realize the dreams of ordinary people by whom they have been elected to high positions, and they will pass very necessary laws. One of these draft laws is registered in the Parliament of Ukraine under number 0881 (on the correction of judicial errors). We also do not give up hope that in our country at the end the first acquittals of arbitrarily sentenced to life imprisonment will take place. Indeed, without justice, any country has a rather illusive future.


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