war crimes in Ukraine

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Persecution of an advocate in Sebastopol

Evhen Zakharov, Kharkiv
On 11 February 1999 at 21:11 hours armed operatives of the special militia department of Sebastopol detained Valeriy Maksimovich Paliy. The pretext for his detainment was the alleged administrative misdemeanor — disrespect of court. Since his detainment the advocate has gone on a hunger strike to express protest against the illegal action.

Valeriy Paliy is a well-known advocate who took part in a number of noted processes. Recently he has agreed to counsel free of charge Andrey Shevchenko, a minor who was gravely wounded by a shot from a handgun fired by General-Lieutenant of militia Vivat Beloborodov, the head of the Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in Sebastopol. The second youth was killed, and the service investigation came to the conclusion that the General acted in self-defense.

During two days and two nights Paliy was kept in the cell of the district militia precinct. Such cells are intended to keep the detained for several hours. He had no opportunity to sleep or to eat. Thus, Paliy became a victim of inhumane and degrading treatment on behalf of militia.

The detainment as such was not justified. In general, incarceration must be applied only in extreme cases stipulated by the norms of international right and operating laws of Ukraine. As can be concluded from the available information, the detainment of advocate Paliy and his administrative arrest are caused solely by execution of his professional duties. This is a brutal violation of Article 10 of Ukrainian law ‘On barristers’. Besides, the administrative arrest of advocate Paliy prevented him to defend his clients.

On 12 February Leninskiy district court of Sebastopol chaired by judge Burchuladze I.V. started to consider the case of the administrative detainment of the advocate. The session lasted, with breaks, till 22:30 hours. The court refused the petition of barristers to release Paliy. The continuation of the session was appointed 11:00 of 13 February. In the course of the court session the accused Paliy pleaded not guilty. The court refused Paliy’s request to choose an advocate by himself. According to Paliy’s words, he did not commit any misdemeanor, and all his case is completely fabricated; the actions of court and militia are intended to exert pressure on him, preventing him to perform his professional duties.

Barristers of Sebastopol express their solidarity with Valeriy Paliy.

On 13 February from 9 to 11 o’clock five members of Sebastopol human rights protection group organized a picket near Leninskiy precinct where Valeriy Paliy was kept. The participants of the picket held posters ‘Down with arbitrary rules!’ and ‘Freedom to Valeriy Paliy!’

On 13 February Leninskiy district court of the city of Sebastopol considered the case from 11:00 to 21:30 hours. The court ruled that Paliy was guilty in the misdemeanor stipulated by Article 185-3 of the Ukrainian Code on administrative misdemeanors (disrespect of court). Paliy was sentenced to ten days of administrative arrest.

In our opinion, this case is nothing but a shameful reprisal. With great pity we have to state that court became the tool of this savage reprisal. The court session demonstrated repressive nature of the administrative legislation, which offers broad opportunities for arbitrary actions. This case clearly illuminated the system of Ukrainian legal proceedings and showed its inability to establish justice.

During the court session it was convincingly proved that a sizeable part of documents was falsified. The protocol of detainment was falsified, as well as the protocol of the court session of 26 January, during which disrespect of court was allegedly shown. The peak of the legal negligence was demonstrated at the end of the court session when it became clear that the case of Paliy was not registered in the court office and had no number. The wish of the court to keep Paliy incarcerated was so immense that judge Burchuladze was considering the case till the night of 12 February and during the day off on 13 February, which is perhaps without precedence in Ukrainian justice.

According to the testimony of some witnesses and of Paliy himself, they were told during Paliy’s detainment that he was arrested by General Beloborodov’s order. However, this aspect of the case was disregarded by the law since Paliy’s petition to summon Beloborodov as a witness was rejected as ‘immaterial for the case’.

Valeriy Paliy continues his hunger strike. His medical state is grave, and the results of the unjust verdict may be hard.

The Sebastopol human rights protection group turned to the Supreme Court of Ukraine with the petition to supervise the case and protest against the unjust ruling. We appeal to human rights protection activists to support our colleagues from Sebastopol. We recommend all to send their protests to Sebastopol city court and to the President of Ukraine.

The address of Sebastopol city court is:

Dmitrieva Galina Nikolayevna

Chairperson of the court

25 Lenina St., 335011


P.S. The Supreme Court of Ukraine has requested the court rouling on Paliy’s case after numeruos letters against the unjust rouling both Ukraine and abroad.
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