war crimes in Ukraine

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Prosecutor demands 6 years for Ivashchenko

Valery Ivashchenko, former Acting Defence Minister in Yulia Tymoshenko’s government, was brought to the court on a stretcher. His prosecution is one of those most frequently named as giving rise to serious doubts about the rule of law and lack of political motivation

Photo: UNIAN

On Monday the Prosecutor called for former Acting Defence Minister in Yulia Tymoshenko’s government, Valery Ivashchenko to be sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.  Valery Ivashchenko has been held in detention since August 2010 during which time his health has gravely deteriorated.  He cannot move by himself and was brought to the court on a stretcher.

Ivashchenko’s case is one of those most frequently cited as arousing concern about selective prosecution of members of Yulia Tymoshenko’s government.  He is charged with having, in November 2009 while Acting Minister of Defence abused his position by signing a plan to sell the Feodosia Marine Engineering Works which was property of the Ministry of Defence.  More details can be found in the Second Preliminary Report by the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights

Valentina Ivashchenko told a Radio Svoboda journalist that her husband has back problems and he has partially lost feeling in his legs. She says that after a year and a half in SIZO [detention centre] his blood sugar level has risen and he suffers from high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis. She believes that in such a condition her husband should not be brought to court.

As has been the case previously with Yury Lutsenko, the State Penitentiary Service has stated that Mr Ivashchenko is fit to take part in the court hearings. The court hearing however took place in the room for people under detention or convoy, this being considerably smaller than the courtroom. Ms Ivashchenko believes this was to prevent journalists and members of her husband’s family being present.

The outgoing Human Rights Ombudsperson, Nina Karpachova called the format for hearings, with Mr Ivashchenko, lying on a stretcher throughout, a flagrant violation of human rights.  The Prosecutor’s representative, Petro Koval, however claimed that the hearing had been in the smaller room for Mr Ivashchenko’s convenience.

Petro Koval also claimed that the sentence asked for – 6 years, and three years without the right to hold managerial posts – “would be the most humane possible”.

“Article 365, § 3 of the Criminal Code envisages a minimum of 7 years, while we suggested 6 – bearing in mind that the plant’s property had been returned to the state, that Valery Ivashchenko has received a positive character reference, has state awards, and bearing in mind problems with his health.”  Mr Koval also noted that they had not demanded confiscation of his property which the article envisages.

This is the article which has been highlighted in statements of concern by European bodies, democratic governments and human rights organizations as being a relict from Soviet times.  Under it, Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced by the Pechersky District Court in October, under Judge Rodion Kireyev to 7 years imprisonment with a huge amount demanded in compensation as well.

The sentence is due on 12 April.

Information about Monday’s hearing from Radio Svoboda

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