• Topics / Politics and human rights
• Topics / The right to a fair trial
Court rejects Lutsenko application for trial investigation
The Kyiv Court of Appeal held a preliminary hearing into the appeal filed by former Interior Minister and opposition leader against the conviction and 4-year sentence passed by the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv on 27 February 2012. It rejected the defence’s application for an investigation into the appeal against the sentence. The panel of judges were apparently in the consulting chamber for 2 hours before Judge Ivan Rtbak announced that the application was rejected. The decision states that at the present stage of the court examination grounds are not seen for holding a trial investigation.
It should be noted that during the trial on a number of occasions witnesses complained of pressure on them, of their testimony given during the investigation having been distorted, etc. All applications then to investigate these allegations were rejected by Judge Serhiy Vovk. The latter also ignored strong objections from the defendant and without providing evidence that the witnesses could not personally attend, simply read out testimony given during the investigation.
The defence had also asked that the Pechersky District Court’s ruling be revoked and the criminal case terminated for want of a crime.
The appeal hearing has been scheduled for 15 May.
The grounds for concern over this case can be found in all the links below and have been repeated many times. So have protests from all democratic countries. On 28 February the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jean-Claude Mignon called on the Ukrainian authorities to free Yury Lutsenko,:
"The former Minister of the Interior was not given a fair trial, and the charges of which he was found guilty are absolutely no justification for a prison sentence. The fact that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is still in detention and that Yuriy Lutsenko has been convicted both strengthen the feeling that the charges against both these opponents of the government are of a political nature, " he said.
"It is unacceptable for former members of the government of a Council of Europe member state to be prosecuted for political reasons. This practice is contrary to the rule of law and takes Ukraine further away the principles of our organisation as well as the European integration to which this country aspires.
As our Assembly requested last month in Resolution 1862, the charges against these former members of the government must be dropped. It is a matter of urgency for the Ukrainian authorities to release Mr Lutsenko, who, like Mrs Tymoshenko, is a victim of a policy pursued by the present government in an effort to call into question decisions taken by a previous government, " concluded Mr Mignon.