war crimes in Ukraine

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Appeal court upholds controversial verdict in Pavlichenko case

The father and son were sentenced to life and 13 years imprisonment respectively accused of killing a judge. The sentences led to a mass campaign in their defence by fellow football fans. Concern over the case is felt by others as well

The Kyiv Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the sentences passed on Dmytro and Serhiy Pavlichenko. The father and son were sentenced to life and 13 years imprisonment respectively accused of killing a judge.  The men’s lawyer, Tetyana Shevchenko called the ruling predictable saying that the court’s bias towards conviction had been evident from the beginning.

The prosecution asserts that Dmytro and his son murdered Judge Serhiy Zubkov from the Shevchenkivsky District Court  because the latter had passed a ruling on some land against them.  The same judge had, however, been responsible for many land-related rulings, some doubtless treading on the toes of developers by supporting individuals protesting against development projects in the centre of Kyiv.  He was also facing investigation by the High Council of Justice over other rulings. The ruling which the Pavlichenkos allegedly felt aggrieved over had, in any case, been revoked at appeal stage.  Dmytro Pavlichenko had been extremely vocal in publicly protesting his rights.  

The two men were arrested three days after Judge Zubkov’ was found murdered outside his own home. The Prosecutor’s Office claimed that it had checked out the possibility of big business interests being implicated and had found no justification for them.

There are a number of features linked with the actual crime which arouse questions.  In an article for Ukrainska Pravda, for example, Kateryna Avramchuk points out that the six people called as witnesses were unable to recognize the Pavlichenkos. The DNA which supposedly incriminates them was not found at the scene of the crime, but on clothing alleged to have been left.  The Pavlichenko’s lawyer, Tetyana Shevchenko says that the number of items apparently left at the scene of the crime to incriminate her clients is suspicious and notes that their positions had, in connection with the court case, been removed from the flat two months earlier.

She adds that the court did not take into account Serhiy Pavlichenko’s statement that his confession was effectively beaten out of him.

On 2 October 2012 the Holosiyivsky District Court in Kyiv sentenced Dmytro Pavlichenko to life imprisonment and his son to 13 years.

The sentences led to huge demonstrations throughout the country.  Serhiy Pavlichenko was an active member of the Kyiv Dynamo Ultras and fans waged a huge campaign. 

Tetyana Shevchenko says that they will be appealing against Thursday’s ruling to the High Specialized Court. 

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