Court hearings in Strogan case continue

The trial is continuing of Yakov Strogan who was charged with attempted murder almost four months after a domestic incident involving himself and a neighbour.  During those months, supported by human rights activists, he spoke out publicly about torture and attempted extortion which police officers who appeared after the original incident had allegedly subjected him to.  He was arrested and remanded in custody a week after taking part in parliamentary hearings at which he again accused police officers of abduction, torture and attempted extortion.  He was brought to the courtroom in December showing clear signs of ill-treatment after having been held in police custody since the previous evening.  This was reported by both the human rights activists and journalists present in the courtroom.  The judge found none of this cause for concern and remanded Yakov Strogan in custody.  More details can be found here


The hearings over the attempted murder charges have been adjourned a few times, on one occasion without the defence being warned.


On 11 May there were no observers from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group {KHPG} because one was ill and the other was dealing with a case in another court. Strogan’s wife informs that without any human rights group observers the judges behaved in a very rude manner with the defence witnesses, in the first instance with her. She reports that they shouted at her, tried to confuse her, interrupted. She remained very calm and said what she wanted to say.


The next hearing was scheduled for 23 May however the judge, without notifying either the witnesses or the lawyers, adjourned this to 28 May. The witnesses and lawyer had waited for an hour and a half for the hearing to commence before learning that the judge had not sent the relevant document for Strogan to be brought to the court.


On 11 May KHPG had asked that the preventive measure in Strogan’s case be changed and that he be released from custody with KHPG acting as guarantee. This was rejected, with the judge saying that bail was needed and that KHPG needed to provide documentation proving it had sufficient funds. KHPG prepared all necessary documents, authorized one representative to act as guarantor however it did not get to this.


The 28 May hearing began with the court rejecting the lawyer’s application to hear a witness from the defence – the wife of the courtyard janitor who saw the broken glass which Strogan’s neighbour, according to the defence fell on) and blood.  This is vital evidence since the case initiated in December speaks of a knife which was “found” with blood on it, but no fingerprints.  The court refused to hear her on the pretext that she had no certificate from her place of work.  She could have brought this within an hour. Instead the court simply removed her as witness.


The next piece of evidence could not be removed so easily. The lawyer read out the text of the victim’s forensic examination carried out two months after the event and virtually demolished it. He called on the court to order records from the hospitals where the alleged victim was treated after his injury as well as a new comprehensive forensic examination carried out somewhere other than in Kharkiv. The lawyer also demanded that the person who had carried out the extraordinarily unprofessional forensic examination be summoned for questioning. The Prosecutor agreed with this, and the court retired to the consulting chamber.  Those present waiting almost three hours for the hearing to resume.


Inna Sukhorukova who reports on the hearing stresses that the forensic examination is the main thing that the prosecution have. If this can be shown to be faked, the whole case will collapse.  The lawyer had virtually proved this.  After three hour, the court partially allowed the lawyer’s application: the forensic expert is to be called, some medical documents to be damaged and following this a decision will be made whether to carry out a comprehensive forensic examination outside Kharkiv.


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