war crimes in Ukraine

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Lutsenko appeal ruling likely on Thursday

The imprisoned former Interior Minister and opposition leader Yury Lutsenko told the judges that what was on trial in this case was Ukrainian law, not one man’s sentence

The Ukrainian News agency quotes Judge Oleh Prysyazhyuk as saying that the Kyiv Court of Appeal is likely to issue its ruling on Thursday. It is examining the appeal lodged by former Interior Minister and opposition leader, Yury Lutsenko against the two-year sentence issued for exceeding official powers.

Speaking before the court on Wednesday Lutsenko said that he did not believe that the court would revoke the sentence, but called on the judges to observe the law.

“What took place in the Pechersky District Court was not a trial of Yury Lutsenko, but a trial against Ukrainian laws. Therefore, your Honours, you cannot, must not simply confirm it without recognizing a precedent of grave violation of procedure.”

The Court of Appeal has thus far rejected all applications from the defence.

On 17 August despite the persistent absence of an aggrieved party and confirmation by all witnesses that they considered the surveillance in dispute to be lawful, despite all calls from the democratic community, presiding judge Hanna Medushevskva sentenced Yury Lutsenko to 2 years restriction of liberty, which is swallowed up by the longer 4 year sentence which he received in February. The other two accused were fined 3.5 thousand UAH each and banned from holding administrative posts for three years.

Lutsenko was charged with “negligence” over the allegedly unlawful surveillance on Valentin Davydenko, driver of the former Deputy Head of the SBU [Security Service] Volodymyr Satsyuk. Yushchenko had been taken ill in 2004 after dining with SBU people at the dacha of the SBU Deputy Head.

The charge had been reduced from abuse of power (under Article 384 § 2 of the Criminal Code).

Effectively all the witnesses called by the prosecution stated that they believed the surveillance of Davydenko to be lawful.

Then in mid July, and then just a week before the verdict, Judge Medushevska read out telegrams from Valentin Davydenko who stated that he did not consider himself to be a victim in this case and asked the court to not disturb him any more.

Yury Lutsenko was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment in February over the first two charges brought against him.  The third charge was unexpectedly separated into a different trial late last year.  His conviction and the new trial have been widely condemned as politically motivated.

As reported, the European Court of Human Rights Judgement of 3 July 2012 in the case of Lutsenko v. Ukraine with respect to the initial detention which found numerous violations of Lutsenko’s rights has now come into effect. 

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