Lutsenko trial: Judge refuses to examine serious allegations of pressure on witnesses
The court in the trial of former Minister of Internal Affairs has refused to find infringements by MIA officers and the Prosecutor General’s Office in calling witnesses. Presiding Judge Serhiy Vovk rejected the relevant application from Mr Lutsenko’s lawyers on Friday.
The defence alleges that the Prosecutor General’s Office and the MIA are putting pressure on witnesses in the case. They say that on 7 October Oleksandr Ishchuk, an employee of the Prosecutor’s Office met with witness Valery Melnyk to get him to confirm testimony which he gave during the pre-trial investigation.
Another argument was that a considerable number of witnesses had been summoned by officials from the MIA Department of Internal Security and not by the court.
The Prosecutor, Dmytro Loban claimed that any court decision finding infringements was premature. Mr Lutsenko disagreed. “At what stage can one speak of this? When [questioning of the] 148th witness ends and out of them 130 have been called by the Department of Internal Security – the court should only then talk about this? When 99% have been processed and questioned in court?”
He added that on the 300th day of his remand in custody surely they could have at least begun imitating legality in the trial.
He pointed out that on Thursday the Head of the MIA Department of Internal Security had said that no employees of the Department had summoned Lutsenko’s witnesses.
The court nonetheless rejected the application.
On Tuesday the court also refused to hear the testimony of a journalist who, the defence alleges, proved pressure from the Prosecutor’s Office on witnesses in the case.
Mr Lutsenko had explained that the day before on TVi there was a feature by journalist Kostyantyn Usov which showed that Oleksandr Ishchuk from the Prosecutor’s Office had demanded that witness Valery Melnyk confirmed testimony which he gave during the pre-trial investigation.
As reported earlier, Valery Melnyk, former Aide to ex-Minister of Internal Affairs, Yury Lutsenko, asserted in court on Friday 7 October that he had been rung a few days before the hearing from the Prosecutor’s Office and advised what he should say in court. He said that there were two calls and he was told to say what he’d said during the interrogation. He said that he had been phoned from that same number during the investigation.
Earlier Mr Melnyk had asserted that the investigators had twisted quite a number of his explanations during his interrogation.
He asserted that the investigators had virtually tormented him, saying that he asked them to let him go to hospital since interrogating a sick man from 9 in the morning till 9 in the evening, sending him from office to office, amounted to cruel treatment.
He said that he had even crossed out one protocol since he couldn’t read it, although the investigators had forced him to do so.
Mr Melnyk stated in court that he had not received any instruction from Yury Lutsenko to employ Leonid Prystuplyuk (Lutsenko’s driver – translator) in the MIA. “He only said in the office that it was necessary to decide what to do with the place [in the MIA] for his driver. I phoned the staff department and asked how drivers had previously been employed. I was told that all drivers had previously been employed in the MIA Department of Investigative Intelligence since they had to keep State secrets”. He stressed that all his actions had been in accordance with current legislation.
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