What is the Supreme Court afraid of?

The Supreme Court has adjourned indefinitely its examination into the case of Oleksandr Yaremenko, sentenced to life imprisonment purely on the basis of a confession almost immediately retracted.

The European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in this case in June 2008. It found that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the failure of the authorities to conduct an effective investigation into the applicant’s allegations that he was ill-treated by the police and prosecutors, as well as of Article 6 § 1 and §3 (see below for the actual judgment).

The Supreme Court’s examination of the case was scheduled for Friday 5 June and members of the press were there ahead of time. Not one had been able to get through by phone to what would seem to be erroneously called the Court’s press service. A Court employee came out and told them that the judges would be holding a meeting where they would decide whether to admit the press. Since none of the motives for holding the hearing behind closed doors set down in Article 20 of the Criminal Procedure Code applied, the judges’ decision could only be whether to adhere to the law or not. In fact, they chose another path and did not hold the hearing.

According to Arkady Bushchenko, Yaremenko’s lawyer and Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, this behaviour is at very least strange, with not only no reason being given, but no idea when the hearing has been adjourned until. Instead of rectifying the violation committed by Ukraine, including by the Supreme Court itself, the latter is once again violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair trial. From fear of publicity, they have left a man imprisoned despite clear grounds for examining the case properly.

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