High Council of Justice “investigates” Supreme Court judges

The High Council of Justice has opened proceedings into alleged violation by members of the Supreme Court Criminal Chamber. This was announced at a briefing by Mykhailo Havrylyuk, Deputy Prosecutor General and member of the High Council of Justice. Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Court Matters believe that this is pressure on Supreme Court judges on the eve of the election of a new Supreme Court Head. The Prosecutor General’s Office denies this.

Several judges from the Supreme Court are facing allegations that between 2009 and 2010 they unlawfully changed the sentence from life to 15 years imprisonment with respect to dangerous criminals. 


According to Mykhailo Havrylyuk, the initiative was taken by some National Deputies [MPs] who provided information about the alleged breach of oath by the judges.   “It is unclear on what grounds the Supreme Court Criminal Chamber, as exceptional proceedings, reviewed all these sentences with flagrant violation of the requirements of criminal legislation and changed the sentences. After examination by the High Council of Justice all the names of the judges will be revealed”.


The Deputy Prosecutor General stated that some of the judges suspected of unlawful behaviour have already resigned of their own accord. He also asserted that the opening of proceedings by the High Council of Justice was in no way linked with the election of Head of the Supreme Court, and that “the material will be examined objectively”.


However Sviatoslav Oliynyk, a non-faction MP and member of the Parliamentary Committee on Court Matters is convinced that the contrary is the case.


“The scenario of pressure on the Supreme Court is being orchestrated far away from the court, in the political centre. In the given case the process is directed by the President’s Administration. The final aim is to ensure that the judges of the Supreme Court against whom this action is directed will prove malleable during the election of Head of the Supreme Court. It is clear that we are talking about judges loyal to the present Head”, Mr Oliynyk said.


He believes it to be indicative that the news that proceedings have been initiated against Supreme Court judges should have been made specifically by a representative of the Prosecutor General.


“The fact that complaints against Supreme Court judges on the point of re-electing a head are announced by a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office is already extremely uncivilized. This can not be viewed as other than interference in the situation within the Supreme Court”.


The election by Supreme Court judges of a new Head, or re-election of Vasyl Onopenko, who held that position from 2006, was planned for the end of September 2011.  It was stopped by court order apparently following an application to the court. At that time, most media outlets reported that Onopenko had every chance of being re-elected. At present there is no head of the Court.  .More information about the present regime’s moves to reduce the Supreme Court’s powers, then apparent backtracking following criticism from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as the situation around the Head of the Supreme Court can be found in Supreme Orchestration and  Parliament adopts Law on Loyal Supreme Court.

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