• Topics / Politics and human rights
• Topics / The right to a fair trial
Lutsenko trial: Court allows witness testimony to be read in his absence
In view of the number of prosecution witnesses who have so far changed their testimony in court or accused the investigators of having twisted their words, the decision on Tuesday to use a witness’s testimony while he is in hospital must be of concern.
Vasyl Sheludko, 47th witness, was in charge of the housing section of the MIA Economic Department. He did not appear in court on Monday and the panel of judges decided to have him brought to the court by force. However on Tuesday presiding Judge Serhiy Vovk announced that a medical certificate had been provided, that Mr Sheludko is undergoing chemotherapy and will be for a month, and asks the court to continue without him.
The Prosecutor spoke in favour of continuing the hearing in Mr Sheludko’s absence, but reading his testimony during the pre-trial investigation.
Yury Lutsenko’s lawyers objected, saying that his testimony could not be read out since Mr Sheludko had already begun testifying in court, and his testimony had differed significantly from that at pre-trial investigation stage.
After consulting in the courtroom, the judges decided to ignore the defence’s arguments and have Mr Sheludko’s previous testimony read out.
Yury Lutsenko himself then read out the judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Oleg Kolesnyk v. Ukraine (application No. 17551/02) from 19 February 2010 where the applicant had asserted that his right to a fair trial had been violated because he had been questioned without a lawyer and had not been given the chance to question prosecution witnesses. The Court found in the applicant’s favour.
From the report of proceedings on Yury Lutsenko’s party’s website