Dnipropetrovsk Trial: Still Missing a Crime

1364937188The text below has been sent to EU officials, Members of the European Parliament and representatives of foreign embassies in Ukraine.

In May 2012 the Prosecutor General publically stated that there was sufficient evidence to convict four men over the bomb blasts in Dnipropetrovsk on 27 April 2012.  He and the Prosecutor’s Office at all levels have continued to push this line, despite an ever-increasing number of grounds for questioning the evidence, the number of actual crimes and also the motives behind the confessions given by the two key defendants, and initially by a third. .

The continued detention and trial of the fourth defendant demonstrates an unprecedentedly cynical disregard for the law.  Dmytro Reva is accused of having acted as an accomplice.  The investigators have not only failed to provide any proof of criminal intent, conspiracy, etc, but have charged him with behaviour which quite simply lacks any element of a crime. At the end of last week, two witnesses summoned as witnesses for the prosecution – Reva’s immediate superior and a colleague – testified fully in Reva’s favour, backing the account of his activities on the day in question. 

It is worth noting that some 15 months after his arrest Reva remains a member of staff.  All his colleagues were clearly convinced that this was all an absurd misunderstanding and that Reva would soon be home with his wife and young daughter.

The absurdity is undoubted, making the behaviour of the Public Prosecutor and the courts especially disturbing.

The bombs planted in rubbish bins exploded in the space of around an hour at midday on 27 April 2012.  They ousted Tymoshenko’s allegations of ill-treatment in both the national and international media, coming as they did five weeks before the start of the Euro 2012 Soccer Tournament which Ukraine was co-hosting.  Exactly one week before the first match, Prosecutor General Pshonka announced that four men had been arrested.

Four identikit pictures had been posted, however it is unclear from the case itself, and the witnesses called, why the investigators were looking for four men.

There are no witnesses at all who have testified against Reva.  He is accused of having gone to the centre of Dnipropetrovsk on the day of the blasts in order to “observe the reaction of the police and public to the explosions, and if necessary pass on information to Sukachev and Fedoryak, so that the latter could coordinate their further actions”.

The bombs had been planted at least an hour before Reva set off for the centre to pay a bill.  They were constructed from chemical detonators, making it entirely impossible to predict the exact timing of any particular explosion.  In the event he witnessed two of the four explosions, but during his lunch break slightly extended so that he could pay a bill in town, he could have missed them all.   Please see Trial by Quota for more details.

The lack of elements of a crime has been confirmed in an expert assessment provided by Mykola Khavronyuk, a prominent criminal law specialist.

One of the SBU [Security Service] officers who carried out a search of Reva’s flat used Reva’s phone to dial another suspect’s number.  This was immediately presented to the court as evidence against Reva and formed the grounds for his remand in custody.  Although it has been proven that the call was made by the SBU officer, the Prosecutor is refusing to prosecute him for falsifying evidence and the court has repeatedly refused to release Reva pending the verdict.

This leaves the “evidence” against Reva being one exchange of text messages from Sukachev where the later asked if everybody was OK, and Reva said yes.  Not only is this an absolutely normal question after bomb blasts, but Sukachev sent similar messages to a number of people.  Two weeks ago, the court rejected the defence’s application to have one such person called in as a witness.

An especially worrying aspect of this case is the role played by the State-controlled UTV-1 which around one week before the parliamentary elections twice broadcast what it asserted was a documentary about the bombings.  The film contains flagrant untruths, including some with a clear anti-opposition political flavour and is very clearly aimed at convincing the viewer that all four men are “terrorists”.  An initial court ruling which found the film to be defamatory was inexplicably overturned at appeal level (See A Public Watchdog with a Difference).

The Regional Prosecutor has also been active in making public statements claiming that the guilt of all defendants has been proven.  Not only is this demonstrably not the case with respect to any of the defendants, but as regards Dmytro Reva, he has been held in detention now for 15 months without there even being a rational criminal charge to answer.



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