No grounds for moving Yury Lutsenko to prison colony


There were rumours from early on Monday that former Interior Minister and opposition leader Yury Lutsenko might be moved to a penal colony in the next few days.  According to Ukrainski Novyny the Deputy Head of the State Penitentiary Service, Ihor Andrushko told them that a decision to move him might be made by 4 June since his sentence has entered into effect.  He said that it was most likely that Yury Lutsenko would b e moved to Penal Colony No. 91 in the Chernivtsi Region where former employees of the law enforcement bodies sentenced to imprisonment are held.

Yury Lutsenko’s defence lawyers are adamant that there are no lawful grounds for moving the former Interior Minister, though Oleksy Bahanets suggests that in Ukraine anything can happen.

Although on 16 May the Kyiv Court of Appeal upheld the 4-year sentence against Yury Lutsenko passed by the Pechersky District Court on 27 February, one of the charges against Yury Lutsenko is still awaiting court examination, and his move would therefore be highly irregular.  It would doubtless also raise very serious questions in western countries given the judgement awaited any day now from the European Court of Human Rights, and the imminent start to Euro 2012.  Many countries which have decided not to boycott the Championship in protest at politically motivated prosecutions in Ukraine have said that they will be trying to visit both Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko.

The detention and trial of Yury Lutsenko have been widely condemned as politically motivated.  Mr Lutsenko himself mentioned some of the discrepancies in the case on Tuesday while an analysis of the charges can be found in the Legal Monitoring of the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights.

It should also be noted that a number of the witnesses complained that their words had been distorted, or that they had been put under pressure. A number of witness statements were simply read out by Judge Serhiy Vovk despite the defence’s objections given the number of witnesses whose testimony in court differed from that allegedly given and the fact that no proof was provided that the witnesses in question were unable to attend.   These are just some of the procedural concerns in this case. 

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