A Trial with Grave Consequences
To the Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Jan Tombiński
(The appeal can be endorsed by writing to halyapuff[at]gmail.com)
Dear Mr Tombiński,
We welcome the EU’s unwavering stand regarding selective justice in Ukraine and can only wholeheartedly agree regarding the primary importance of Ukraine’s commitment to rule of law.
It is for this reason that we are writing with respect to the trial of three men accused of a bomb blast in the Zaporizhya Svyatopokrovsk Orthodox Church on 28 July 2010. Any situation where the outcome of a trial is widely believed to be dependent on promises given the President and not on the guilt or innocence of the defendants is a direct threat to the development of rule of law in Ukraine.
In the so-called “case of the sacristans” there is no evidence against any of the three defendants, only seven “confessions” which all retracted as soon as they received access to proper lawyers, not the passive “defenders” called by the investigators.
The first young man, Anton Kharytonov, a suspended sacristan of the church, was taken to the police station the morning after President Yanukovych was shown on national television ordering the heads of law enforcement bodies to find the culprits within a week. The protocol of detention was, however, only drawn up immediately before his first confession around midnight and night interrogation. Over the following days Anton wrote another three confessions.
His brother, Serhiy Dyomin, was held in custody from that same evening, 30 July 2010. A day later, during a night interrogation, he confessed to making the bomb. When specialists placed in question his knowledge and ability to do so, he made a second, quite different confession, this time to having bought the explosive device “from an unidentified individual”.
A second sacristan – Yevhen Zakharchenko – was detained a few days later.
A large number of procedural violations arouse concern in this case. Despite serious grounds for believing that the young men’s numerous confessions were obtained through torture, threats and other psychological pressure, there has never been an investigation.
On the contrary, when two forensic psychologists from accredited institutes (Donetsk and Luhansk) provided assessments confirming that all men had been placed under psychological pressure and had not given evidence independently, without being asked leading questions, Judge Minasov simply ordered a third assessment. That found no pressure, but detected an “inclination to criminality”. The defence’s application to have all three forensic psychologists questioned in court to ascertain the reason for such divergent assessments was turned down.
It should be noted that the very considerable changes to the indictment made almost two years into the trial removed specification of time, since the three all had alibis. None of this elicited any objections or comment from Judge Minasov.
On 2 April 2013, despite a number of violations which have already, in analogous cases, led to European Court of Human Rights judgements against Ukraine, Anton Kharytonov and Yevhen Zakharchenko were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment; Serhiy Dyomin to 14 years.
We are convinced that EU attention to this disturbing case and the presence of a representative of the EU Delegation to Ukraine at the Appeal Court hearing on 1 October 2013 would give everybody, including the Ukrainian public, a clear and extremely important message.
Appeal hearing: 28 August at 14.00 in the Zaporizhya Court of Appeal (50, ul. Artema)
(More detail about the case can be found at http://khpg.org/1360672225 )
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Yevhen Zakharov, Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Oleh Levytsky, advocate, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Natalya Belitser, Pilyp Orlyk Institute for Democrac
Myroslav Marynovych, former political prisoner, Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University
Zynoviy Antonyuk, former political prisoner
Mykola Riabchuk, Vice President of the Ukrainian PEN Centre
Andrew Grigorenko, General Petro Grigorenko Foundation
Olha Dyomina, mother of Anton Kharytonov and Serhiy Dyomin
Mykola Kozyrev, human rights worker, Luhansk
Oleksy Svyetikov, human rights worker, Luhansk oblast
Oleksandr Bukalov, Donetsk Memorial
Andriy Didenko, Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Anna Herashchenko, humanitarian programmes coordinator, Kharkiv
Olha Zambon, private businesswoman, Germany
Oleksy Herashchenko, programmer, Kharkiv
Dmytro Horbunov, programmer, Holland
Natalya Kozhyna, environmentalist
Serhiy Gorlyak, lawyer
Oleksandr Severyn, “Maidan Monitoring” Information Centre
Ewa Sowa, lawyer
Mykhail Shkuro, businessman
Kherson Regional NGO Right to Life
Larissa Fradkin, Emerita Professor, London South Bank University, Associated Professor, Brunel University
Vsevolod Afanasyev, British Antarctic Survey
Svitlana Rud, Centre for Legal Technology, Kramatorg
Kyrylo Bulkin, Director of the NGO MAMAI, writer, actor
Vitaly Pogosyan, head of the law firm Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners
Oksana Tomchuk, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners
S, Pogosyan, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners
N. Zhmailo, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners
Anastasia Olkhovnikova, trainer
Y. S. Chernonog, Associate Professor of Commercial and Labour Law CI MAUP
Vadym Pyvovarov, Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement [UMDPL]
Vasyl Sukov, Dnipropetrovsk Human Rights Group
Maksym Butkevych, Without Borders Project
Konstantin Reutsky, Postup Human Rights Centre
Vasyl Sydorenko, businessman
Alina Akhrimova, businesswoman
Rolena Parkhomenko, social services worker
Volodymyr Khanas, Male Adaptation Centre, Ternopil
Volodymyr Shevchenko, Ternopil Human Rights Group
Lyudmila Koval, human rights worker
Viktor Tarasov, Chernihiv Public Committee for the Defence of Human Rights
Arthur Fredekind, journalist, writer
Centre for Civil Liberties
Vladimir Azhyppo, police veteran
Serhiy Burov, M’ART
Alexey Semyonov, USA, President, The Andrei Sakharov Foundation.
Maria Alekseyenko, Women’s Consortium of Ukraine
Oleh Yashtulov, Donetsk
Yelena Volochai, NGO “For Professional Assistance”
Olena Lutyova, NGO “Aibolit”, Network of Public Advice Centres in the Crimea
Yevhenia Zakrevska, Advocate
Yaroslav Movchan, Chief Editor Жива Україна Living Ukraine
Volodymyr Kaplun, Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Svitlana Poberezhets, Vinnytsya Human Rights Group
Bohdan Bondarenko, lawyer, Luhansk Regional Committee of Voters of Ukraine
Pavlo Khazan, Zeleny Svit / Friends of the Earth, Ukraine
Oleksandr Stepanenko, Helsinki Initiative XXI
Natalya Sherbata, National Association of Women Advocates
Микола Коробко, ГО "Криворізьке міське правозахисне товариство"
Ирина Лех, частный предприниматель
Володимир Чабан, Інженер ТРК
Екатерина Ивченко, частный предприниматель
Наталя Камишникова, журналіст, Волинська організація "За права людини і демократію" .
Ukrainian version here http://khpg.org/1379887134