Guilty without guilt

Imagine an ordinary day in the life of a Ukrainian citizen. He walks out of his home, hurrying to work. Suddenly, near the entrance to his block of flats a police unit approaches and takes him to the police station. Employees from the PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE put the detained man in an ordinary damp cellar.

Later, without any legal grounds, the citizen is held in custom for more than 14 months. Add to that torture and sophisticated humiliation which brings him to the state where he’s prepared to sign blank pieces of paper. Add also not being allowed to meet with your lawyer. As a result the person in a fit of despair attempts suicide and it is only happy chance that saves his life.

What is this? – you will ask, reading these lines. A new cheap detective novel or horror story by Stephen King? No. the story told here ready happened in Kyiv. And could happen to each of us. Human rights defenders, as well as the victim himself, talked about the case and its implications at a press conference entitled: “The collapse of the law enforcement system in Ukraine.. Any individual can be unlawfully detained in a SIZO [remand centre] on the instructions of an employee of the prosecutor’s office without court order”

The main hero of the case (without, of course, his consent) was Yury Mosyeenkov, who was detained on a charge of murder. When being detained on 7 May 2005 he was not given the opportunity to speak with a lawyer or other defence person. The entire detention procedure and interrogation was held without the involvement of a lawyer. After 72 hours, instead of the legally stipulated 48, and with clear violations of the norms of Article 165.2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, he was presented with a resolution stating that he was to face charges.

Yury spent the first three days in the office of the Dniprovsky prosecutor’s office in Kyiv under arrest. During this time, investigator D.P. Titor and three operations officers from the Dniprovsky police station carried out “elucidating work” with him.

After a drawn out and brutal beating session ordered by the above-mentioned investigator and carried out by the three officers, Yury lost consciousness several times. He was then flung into a cellar in the Dniprovsky prosecutor’s office. That lasted three days, until Yury finally “broke”, i.e. “confessed” to the crime. At the demand of the prosecutor’s office investigators he signed a wad of blank sheets and also “volunteered” a statement in which he said that he “fully” and unconditionally confessed to having committed the crime.

Yury had a coin in his pocket which he tried to sharpen against a stone while in the earth cellar. Unable to endure the torture and humiliation applied by the prosecutor’s office and police of the Dniprovsky District in Kyiv, he planned to cut his wrists, By miracle, the coin was taken away from him during the next interrogation by investigator V.V. Skotsky who was witness to what was going on.
There were other procedural violations. For example:
– an illegal search of Yury’s flat;
– the case was sent back four times by the district court for further investigation instead of being terminated (after it had become evident that the investigation unit had made a mistake);
– the investigators of the Dniprovsky prosecutor’s office did not once extend the period for pre-trial investigation in a higher level prosecutor’s office, as required by Article 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code;
– Investigator V.V. Skotsky unlawfully and unwarrantedly refused a defence advocate access to the case for over 50 calendar days;
– the defence advocates were not allowed a single meeting with the defendant until January 2007;
– the defence advocates were not able to see the material in the criminal file right up till February 2007
– the unlawful remand in custody of the accused, Yury Mosyeenkov, for more than 14 months in the Kyiv SIZO [remand centre] No. 13 without a court order.

It was only on 2 February 2007 that Yury Mosyeenkov was finally released from custody (the Kyiv Appeal Court changed the preventive measure against him) due to the end of the maximum period of remand in custody in accordance with Article 185.2 of the CPC.

A number of facts which we cannot pass by here suggest that Yury Mosyeenkov is innocent. Firstly, aside from the “confession” which was written as a result of torture, the Dniprovsky prosecutor’s office investigators have no other proof that can confirm that Yury committed the murder. Secondly, the murder weapon has yet to be found. There are also no witnesses at all to the crime.

Yury’s defence advocates have thus reached the conclusion that there are signs of unlawful conduct in launching the criminal investigation and the holding of Yury Mosyeenkov in SIZO No. 3 for 14 months, not to mention other flagrant violations of the defendant’s rights. They plan to prove this in court.

It would have seemed that the story had reached its logical happy ending. However, at the press conference Yury Mosyeenkov stated that his life and liberty were in jeopardy. “I am afraid to go out onto the street without my mother or girlfriend. I also find letters in the post box already opened”.

Volodymyr Chemerys, member of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union states that the case is under the control of human rights organizations who will do everything in their power to prevent any further violation of Yury’s rights.

He added that there are a huge number of such cases in Ukraine. To change the situation, in the first instance systemic changes are required in the work of the prosecutor’s office and of the law enforcement agencies.

Marina Hovorukhina, UHHRU

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