Who has something to hide?
The Prosecutor is seeking to have a gravely flawed criminal trial heard behind closed doors. The trial has been underway for some time which only fuels suspicions that it is the damning evidence of procedural irregularities and worse with respect to at least one defendant that have prompted the move. .
The announcement by Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor Natalya Marchuk has come as the trial of four men charged in connection with the Dnipropetrovsk bomb blasts on 27 April 2012 is due to recommence after a month’s break. All four men have been in custody since the end of May 2012.
Information about this case and the concerns it raises has been published in the media and reported to EU officials, diplomats and many others. The causes for concern are serious.
A prominent legal specialist, Mykola Khavronyuk, has stated that the charges against Reva lack any components of a crime. As reported, Reva is accused of having acted as an accomplice and gone to the centre of Dnipropetrovsk on the day of the blasts in order to “observe” public and police reaction and, if necessary, pass on information to the two alleged organizers of the blasts so that they could act accordingly. He witnessed only two of the blasts, and could have missed them all since they had been planted earlier and explosives experts say there was no way of knowing when they would go off. Reva was not acquainted with one of the two men, and in any case did not try to contact anybody. Nor is it clear what he could have wished to communicate and what further actions the two alleged organizers could have taken.
An article by Reva’s lawyer published on Friday reveals some of the questionable tactics of the investigators.
The most notorious violation has received wide coverage in the media. An SBU [Security Service] officer has been proven to have tried to fabricate evidence against Reva during the search of his flat on 31 May 2012. A criminal investigation was initiated into the SBU officer’s behaviour, yet the Prosecutor is presently killing its logical continuation.
A more detailed account can be found in Trial by Quota. Behaviour by the Prosecutor and the film shown on the ever-servile State-owned UTV-1 seem suspiciously coordinated. With the prosecution having no evidence at all against Reva, both the Prosecutor and UTV-1 have seemed intent of using unsubstantiated claims and manipulative techniques to convince the public that Dmitry Reva is guilty.
This became particularly obvious after a court in early April found that a film shown twice on UTV-1 in October had been defamatory and ordered the channel to retract false assertions about Reva.
During April and May a number of statements were issued by the above-mentioned Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor falsely claiming that there was considerable evidence proving the guilt of each of the four defendants.
Then in early June the Kyiv Court of Appeal overturned the ruling in Reva’s favour, finding that the supposed documentary “Hades Hell” had not been defamatory. Details about the film and why the ruling is so dangerous can be found in Public Watchdog with a Difference. With crucial presidential elections on the horizon and media sources being bought up by people loyal to those in power, other uses for a state-owned television channel prepared to present as factual false and distorted information, and appeal court prepared to deny any defamation, are frighteningly clear.
The behaviour of the Prosecutor’s Office in this case raises the gravest of concerns, especially since it is the Prosecutor’s Office which should be overseeing adherence to the law in all criminal prosecutions. With the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor not only ready to publicly disregard the presumption of innocence, but to also make entirely false statements regarding the case, it is clear that no impartial examination of concerns and complaints can be expected, while the recent ruling by the Appeal Court makes any optimism about the court’s independence seem less than warranted.
This case must remain in full public view.