Ivashchenko’s right to equality of arms flagrantly violated

The lawyer representing former Acting Defence Minister in Yulia Tymoshenko’s government, Valery Ivashchenko has condemned the court’s reading out of testimony given by witnesses at pre-trial investigation level.

Boris Nechyporenko told journalists that “despite objections from Ivashchenko and his defence lawyers, Judge Serhiy Vovk began reading out the testimony of other witnesses given during the pre-trial investigation. This was after “contenting himself” with telegrams from witnesses notifying that they couldn’t attend the trial, without ascertaining the reasons, and still less trying to ensure their appearance as required by law”.

Ivashchenko himself had pointed out that in other trials which the presiding judge, Serhiy Vovk is involved in, the judge had resorted to forcibly bringing witnesses to court. Yet at this hearing, the judge had not heeded the defence’s insistence that particular witnesses whose testimony is crucial for refuting the charges against Ivashchenko must appear in court.

“The panel of judges is thus flagrantly violating the norms of the Criminal Procedure Code on ensuring equality of arms in the case. This reflects unconcealed bias by the court in its examination of the criminal prosecution of Ivashchenko”

On 25 January the court continued reading out protocols of testimony which it had begun at the previous hearing.

As reported, the same judge Serhiy Vovk on Tuesday ignored the objections of former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko and his defence counsel and began reading out the testimony of thirty witnesses given during the pre-trial investigation. This is despite the number of allegations made by witnesses in court that their testimony was distorted by the investigators.

Valery Ivashchenko has been in detention for over a year. He is charged with having, in November 2009 while Acting Minister of Defence abused his position by signing a plan to sell the Feodosia Marine Engineering Works which was property of the Ministry of Defence.  Please see the Second Preliminary Report by the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights, where Valery Ivashchenko’s case is one of those examined.

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