Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On October 30th the Obolonsky district court of Kiev finished the debate on the case of the former President Viktor Yanukovych, who is accused of state treason. This decision testifies to the completion of the trial and fast sentencing. Lawyers were ready to further continue the debate, however the court didn’t give the defence such a chance, having considered that they repeat and file the same motions. The defence considers that this is a gross violation of their rights, since the law doesn’t limit the time period of a debate.
“Ukranews” decided to ask the lawyer of Yanukovych Aleksandr Goroshinsky about the reason for the early completion of the debate, whether or not the defence sees in this the bias of the court, and what can it be connected to. The lawyer also spoke about what in essence this decision means, when one should expect a verdict, and also stated about multiple violations during this high-profile judicial process.
Tell us please how we should evaluate everything that happened on October 30th in the Obolonsky court of Kiev? Why did the presiding judge on the case Vladislav Devyatko suddenly decide to abruptly finish the whole stage of the debate?
“Today, at its own initiative, the court stopped the judicial debate of the defence. This was done for the purpose of reaching a court verdict before a certain date. Thus, of course, it has to pass a decision. If it continued to further work the process, the judge Devyatko would have to once again postpone the process for at least about 10 days. He, apparently, didn’t include this in his plans. That’s why he made the decision on formal grounds to disrupt the speech of the defence, which is, by the way, a direct violation of the law, because it is forbidden to prohibit or limit the speech of lawyers in a judicial debate.
In addition, the court knew very well that the defence has a number of materials for presentation in the judicial debate. In particular, it knew that we prepared a documentary on the basis of a number of unique materials and a number of new sensational pieces of information. We wanted to show them to all citizens at specifically the final stage of the debate. This film was planned as an integral component of it and one of the most important parts of the process. We understand, just like how the court perfectly understands, that voicing such information can lead to negative consequences both for the judges and for all the government. And so as a result we faced a decision that is unprecedented for all the history of Ukrainian law – suddenly and in defiance of all norms the debate and speech of the defence was disrupted.”
Is it possible to now consider that the trial concerning treason and the handing over of Crimea has been completed? Or are there still some surprises, is it possible that someone else will speak? For example, it was said that the accused Viktor Yanukovych himself can have the last word. Just how possible is this before November 19th, as was declared by the presiding judge Devyatko?
“It is indeed possible. Moreover, appearing in court was Viktor Yanukovych’s initiative. But it is possible only under the condition that his defence are near him and give legal aid on the territory of the Russian Federation. For this purpose it is necessary to complete the corresponding registration – in fact, the accreditation of the defence, so that it can have the opportunity to render legal aid. But the speed of this registration doesn’t depend on the desires of Viktor Yanukovych or his lawyers. The law provides a timeframe of about 3 months to sort out such a procedure. That’s why it is surprising from where and on the grounds of what the judges established such a date – November 19th. It is obvious that someone tries to hurry things up.”
To what extent was the defence given the chance in this process to present entirely its position and arguments? The matter concerns not only the stages of the debate, but in general the entire conceptual part – lists of witnesses and the list of materials that were or weren’t attached to the case.
“Firstly, the court didn’t give me the opportunity to examine the materials of the criminal case in full. Today it consists of 89 volumes. It is a rather large volume of material. And in order to be able to become acquainted with just one volume the court of appeal gives at least one day. In fact, at least 4 months are needed in order to examine the materials of the criminal case. Remember that for slightly more than a month I had no opportunity to examine the case.
Secondly, without having studied the entire volume of case papers, I obviously haven’t had any opportunity to finish my debate speech, because I have to analyse all the circumstances. The same thing also applies to my colleague Aleksandr Baydyk. It’s the same situation and the same story. That’s why neither I nor Baidyk in fact have finished our debate speeches. All the manipulations about us speaking for a long time are piteous, for the simple reason that in other cases the debate can last for months. The same thing is true when the prosecution can read out the indictment for months. All the stories about you supposedly speaking for a long time come from people who don’t at all understand what a criminal process is.”
Can you list the rights of the defence that were violated in your opinion?
“The first thing: the fact that we learn information about the names of judges who are supposed to consider the case from the lips of the Prosecutor-General, but not from the court. The names of the judges were known, and he named them before they were defined by the automated system. The second thing: direct and public threats are being made by the Prosecutor-General Yury Lutsenko to lawyers, who he threatens with criminal punishment immediately after the process comes to an end.
Concerning procedural violations, the vast majority of the prosecution’s witnesses are after the political opponents of Viktor Yanukovych. Also, they are people who in fact are indeed the beneficiaries of the situation that we qualify in this court as a coup, which happened in 2014. These people a priori can’t testify objectively.
In addition to his, the court actually limited the possibility of interrogating the defence’s witnesses. The court simply cut away the vast majority of the defence’s witnesses, thus not giving them the chance to in general interrogate them. The court also didn’t give the chance to examine many essential proof of the defence. In particular, five judicial-linguistic examinations were attached to the materials that the court for some reason didn’t want to study within the framework of proceedings. The court didn’t study more than 50 volumes of written evidence of the defence that in essence disproves the narrative of the prosecution. The court refused to make a decision on the inadmissibility of the prosecution’s proof, although our arguments were faultless. And such violations and direct violations of the defence’s rights are already hundreds, if not thousands concerning this process.”
What will be your further actions if the court nevertheless makes a decision that isn’t in your favour?
“It is absolutely simple and clear. We will appeal against such a verdict in the higher instances, we will also file claims of another character in the International Courts of Justice. We we present in the Court of Appeal all the evidence that the court of first instance didn’t consider necessary to investigate. Of course, we will also appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. But this will happen after we have passed through all procedures under national legislation. This is what the rules and laws of our country enshrine.
Lastly, I would like to note that right now our colleagues, among whom there are Vitaly Serdyuk, Olga Prosyanyuk, and others, are in the US. With the help of American lawyers, all the violations that we face were transferred by them to the state bodies of this country. In particular, as far as I know, information about violations was transferred to the US Department of Justice.”
According to your information, on what dates should we expect a final decision of the court concerning this process?
“I suspect that the court will try to finish things by the anniversary of Maidan. By November 30th or by the beginning of December the court will most likely arrive at sentencing. And what will happen after this? The following: all politicians, including the President and the Prosecutor-General, after adjudgement will flaunt it wherever they can. However, I consider that this will be their Pyrrhic victory.”
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