war crimes in Ukraine

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Tax Code protester still in custody 7 months on

06.07.2011    source:
The Human Rights Ombudsperson is sending a representative to the next hearing into the case of Serhiy Kostakov who is accused of damaging a car during the peaceful protest against the Tax Code in late November 2010. There are only police witnesses in this worrying case and a video which the defendant has not been allowed to see

Serhiy Kostakov is accused of having damaged a car during the peaceful protest against the Tax Code in late November 2010.  He has been held in custody since 1 December 2010, although if convicted of the crime he would not spend longer imprisoned, He has not been convicted, and there are serious doubts about the case with the only witnesses being police officers, and their video footages, according to the independent journalist investigative bureau Svidomo not showing Kostakov touching the car.

The NGO Vpered [Forward] reports that the Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova is planning to ask the court to change the restraint measure against Kostakov to a signed undertaking not to leave the city. They report that she met with Natalia Korolevska, National Deputy from BYUT and Head of the Board of Vpered on 4 July to discuss the course of the investigation into the case. As a result of this meeting, Ms Karpachova sent a letter to the Head of the Pechersky District Court Inna Otrosh giving grounds for changing the restraint measure from remand in custody.

According to Natalya Korolevska, “the Kostakov case is an example of how the state treats those citizens who are not afraid of openly expressing their civic position. This case may not be as high-profile as others, but that does not mean that we can remain indifferent to the fate of an active citizen who was daring enough to express his disagreement with the authorities”.

Natalia Korolevska has lodged a number of applications with the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv to have Serhiy Kostakov released on a signed undertaking. The last, in the second half of June, was signed by 11 National Deputies. So far these and other efforts have been in vain.

The next hearing into the case is scheduled for 11 July.  It has been agreed that a representative of the Human Rights Ombudsperson will be present.

The prosecution’s case is based on the evidence of 8 police officers. 7 police officers have still not testified, and their failure to  appear in court has been one of the reasons why the case has dragged on so long. The video footage has not been shown in court and the accused has had his application to see the video turned down. 

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