Pukach Trial: Application to be made for judge’s withdrawal
The trial of former MIA General Oleksy Pukach who is charged in connection with the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze in September 2000 has been adjourned until Thursday at the request of Oleksy Podolsky, a victim in the case against Pukach.
According to Valentina Telychenko, the lawyer representing Georgy’s widow, Myroslava Gongadze, Podolsky explained that he needs time to prepare an application for withdrawal of the presiding judge. Mr Podolsky has learned of a court ruling which give him grounds for distrusting the judge. The sentence was passed by Judge Melnyk in 2002 in a case involving medium serious bodily injuries sustained by Deputy Yelyashevych in February 2000.
Ms Telychenko supports Oleksy Podolsky’s planned application. She explains that the sentence in question convicted a 20-year-old who was in custody from August 2000. “This man, having spent around 2 years in custody supposedly suddenly recalled having inflicted bodily injuries on Deputy Yelyashevych and signed a confession to this effect”.
“The court in the verdict does not provide any proof of guilt, referring only to the confession. The victim, Yelyashevych did not take part in the court hearing, moreover it would seem that the victim was not even formally recognized”, Ms Telychenko added.
She considers the emergence of this sentence to provide serious grounds for distrusting the court considering that it is examining the Pukach case behind closed doors. The fact that it is not open is an infringement of the law, she says, pointing out that the court “stubbornly refused to see an infringement of the law regarding the accusations against Kravchenko [former Minister of Internal Affairs] until the Prosecutor, who is supporting the state prosecution finally couldn’t endure the shame of concealing the unlawful actions by the investigators and Deputy Prosecutor General Kuzmin”.