• Topics / Politics and human rights
• Topics / The right to a fair trial
Lutsenko trial: 14 hour court hearing with four "ambulance breaks"
The trial of former Internal Affairs Minister Yury Lutsenko reached new depths of cynical disregard for the defendant’s rights on Thursday 19 January. With the court clearly under instructions to move fast, presiding judge Serhiy Vovk rejected applications for the court’s adjournment on the grounds of Yury Lutsenko’s health.
According to the People’s Self-Defence Party’s website, the hearing adjourned at 23.30 on Thursday evening, and is scheduled to resume at 8.05 on Friday.
Through the day an ambulance was called for Yury Lutsenko four times.
The following details are taken from the above-mentioned party website. The trial is high-profile and being attended by journalists and often members of foreign delegations, and any discrepancies would be easily refutable.
The morning session began with an application from Lutsenko’s lawyer for the hearing to be adjourned due to his client’s ill-health. Despite the fact that both he, and Yury Lutsenko, made it clear that an ambulance had just been, Judge Vovk insisted on calling another ambulance. This arrived with blue number plate and the website suggests that they may have called a car from the SIZO [remand centre] and not from the hospital as the previous time.
The ambulance only arrived at 10.30 and then took about 10-15 minutes to get to Lutsenko. The defence asserts that they were receiving instructions as to what to say about Lutsenko’s condition.
At 11.15 Vovk resumed the court hearing.
Defence Advocate (and Yury Lutsenko’s wife) Iryna Lutsenko read out a report from the Internet about the death of a 32-year-old man during questioning by the police in Sumy. The forensic examination there had found that the course of death had been a weak heart and acute pancreatitis. Iryna Lutsenko pointed out that the latter was one of the serious complaints which Yury Lutsenko had been diagnosed as suffering from.
Yury Lutsenko himself said that while he had become accustomed to the pain, the new court schedule had made his condition especially acute.
He asked only that the court did not make him go through another 8-hour-session so that he could have time to lie down and recuperate..
All these arguments were ignored.
As mentioned, the court hearing in fact lasted 14 hours, with just over 8 hours from end of the Thursday session to the scheduled start of the Friday hearing (Mr Lutsenko is likely to be taken to the court much earlier).
Lutsenko asked Judge Vovk if the doctors had given a written confirmation that he could continue the hearing. Vovk stated that there had been a verbal statement.
One of the witnesses, Bohdana Vasylenko, stated that the investigator had put pressure on her. She said that investigator Serhiy Voichenko had tried to push his opinion on certain issues and that there had been differences. Then, she said, when she read the protocol of the interrogation, she found things that she had not said. She furthermore asserts that the investigator only agreed to correct some answers.
She alleges that she was threatened with dismissal, and that investigator Voichenko had said that he did not intend to leave his work because of her interrogation. She said that she had received the first summons on Wednesday 18 January in the evening through a phone call from an assistant to Judge Vovk, and then later a written summons brought to her by a member of staff of the department of internal security within the MIA.
She added that they had proposed that she write a statement refusing to give testimony in court.