Ivan Nechyporuk has become a symbol of the unfortunate failure of Ukrainian law enforcement and has received EUR 35 000 compensation at the European Court. He continues to fight for his good name.
On March 13, 2004, in the morning near the Lviv highway, police found the corpse of a woman-private entrepreneur with signs of violent death. As it turned out now, no murderers of the women have been found yet, but instead, on May 20, police decided to charge an innocent man with this murder – Ivan Nechyporuk. Mykola Nechyporuk, his father, claims that his son was just stolen.
‘He was trapped by police officers. They said ‘you will go with us, there we will find out something’. He was unlawfully imprisoned. At night, they began to use physical violence, torture, and electric current. They forced him to confess to a murder of a citizen he has not committed. ”
According to his father, the tortures were particularly cruel.
‘One of the executioners had a birthday at that day, on May 20. They were drinking, and after midnight they started torturing him, beat, choke, and it lasted until 7 o’clock am.’
Ivan’s father says the police officers set his son up in order to have time for the fabrication of the case.
‘He was arrested for possession of something like drugs … they found, like, a bag with drugs’
Ivan knew the murdered woman personally because his wife worked at her company as her first deputy. The father says that the police decided to take Ivan’s wife as a hostage to force him to sign a confession.
‘She was pregnant, they took her from work, brought to the south-western police unit and said, ‘We will do with her the same as with you,’ Mykola Nechyporuk says.
Fearing threats, Ivan signed everything that he was offered. His father decided to act.
‘In November, I turned to Arkadyi Bushchenko at the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, and we sent a parallel complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.’
In May 2005, the court acquitted Ivan Nechyporuk for lack of evidence of his involvement in the crime. In the same year, the Court of Appeal in Ternopil region revoked the decision. After that, the Khmelnytskyi District Court began a new trial of the case. As a result of further trials, many flaws of the preliminary investigation has been discovered.
‘In the Resolution of the Shepetivka City Court, 37 shortcomings that prosecutors had to eliminate had been defined’, says the father of Ivan.
But as a result of numerous manipulations of law enforcement, Ivan Nechyporuk sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder by the court of appeal in Ternopil region in 2007. In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ukrainian courts are obliged to review that decision, and in 2012 the trials began again. In 2013, Ivan Nechyporuk was acquitted. With the proven facts of torture by the decision of the ECHR, he received from the state 35 000 euros of compensation. But his father continued to litigate in Ukrainian courts.
‘He was under investigation for eight years and six months; seven and a half years he spent in prison. According to the Law of Ukraine on compensation for the moral and material damage by the state, he was not paid for every month’, Mykola Nechyporuk says.
Oleh Savinskyi, a lawyer, who works with the Strategic Litigation Center of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, started helping Ivan Nechyporuk in November 2015 after his release from prison when the court acquitted him. The problem was to obtain redress because of illegal conviction and detention. The amount was significant.
‘Taking into account all the costs of the plaintiff that incurred, that is UAH 204’668 of pecuniary damage. Given such large periods, including seven years in custody, the law provides for reimbursement of the minimum salary per month for the lost income if the person does not work’, says Mykola Nechyporuk.
They also claim the reimbursement of legal expenses and food. A specialist psychologist estimated amount for moral damages of over UAH 485 million. The Court agreed with the size of only UAH 160’000. As a result, the court of appeal satisfied the claim for moral damages, but it closed the proceedings considering the pecuniary damages and decided that this is the case for the prosecutor’s office. Currently, Oleh Savinskyi lawyer appealed to the court of cassation:
‘If this solution does not satisfy the plaintiff, he will work directly with representatives of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union and will file a complaint to the European Court to protect his rights.’
Oleh Savinskyi says that there are many such cases:
‘This is neither the first, nor the last, nor the only case in Ukraine. There are already due to changes in the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, which has somewhat changed the attitude of judges to review the cases and, of course, acquittals began to appear. And there is the question of compensation for the damage, which the State voluntarily does not want pay.’
The father of Ivan Nechyporuk said that a criminal proceedings against law enforcement officers who falsified the case was opened. ‘Hromadske Radio’ has asked the National Police of Ukraine to provide a resolution on the opening of the proceedings, but received a refusal. According to N. Tielichko, the Head of the Department of requests for public information, the current Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine does not provide adoption of resolutions on the opening of criminal proceedings. The pre-trial investigation begins after entering data in the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations, which is closed because of the secret of the investigation.
The Khmelnytskyi Oblast Prosecutor’s Office at the request of “Hromadske Radio” also reported that “according to Art. 222 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, the preliminary investigation information is disclosed only with the permission of the investigator or the prosecutor and the extent to which they recognize it possible. According to the list of information that constitutes proprietary information and may be contained in the documents of the prosecution Ukraine […] belong to the service information. In addition, according to Art. 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information,” the information containing secret pre-trial investigation is classified as secret. ”