Without right to justice: Occupation power of Crimea delays consideration of appeal of political prisoner Andriy Kolomiets

The Kyivsky District Court of Simferopol city in Crimea delays consideration of appeal in the case of Ukrainian political prisoner Andriy Kolomiets. The man will soon mark four months in custody.

Lawyer of Andriy Kolomiets, Mikhail Kushpel, says that primary responsibility for this rests with judge of the Kyivsky District Court of Simferopol city Mikhail Belousov.

"July 28, judge Mikhail Belousov sent me a registered letter with a verdict in a case against Tajik citizen Makhmudov. He older than Andriy Kolomiets by 22 years and was sentenced under another article. So, I have not been provided with the verdict for three months," the lawyer said.

After the verdict was announced on June 17, 2016, the lawyer submitted a short appeal against it, having no verdict in writing.

"However, the court returned me that letter not having opened it, claiming that the address on the envelope was incorrect. I believe that judge Belousov has committed every possible violation. His actions do not meet the status of judge," the Russian lawyer said.

The court did not provide the lawyer with the verdict within three days upon his arrival in Crimea. Mikhail Kushpel received the verdict only from Andriy Kolomiets while visiting him in a remand prison on July 20.

The defender believes that the verdict is considered to be challenged, despite the opposition of judge Belousov, as Andriy Kolomiets sent his complaint to the court of appeals.

Pursuant to the Russian legislation, custody cannot last more than a month. According to estimates of the lawyer, Ukrainian citizen has been in custody for almost four months.

As reported, Andriy Kolomiets was sentenced to ten years in high-security prison in Russia-annexed Crimea on June 10. He was detained on suspicion of drug possession on the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia in May 2015. Subsequently, the man was transferred to Crimea and charged with attempted murder of two Crimean security officers of Berkut special riot police force.

The "Memorial" Russian human rights organization recognized him as a political prisoner and demanded his immediate release.

Political nature of sentence

Olha Skrypnyk, the activist of the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG), describes the trial of Andriy Kolomiets as such that has nothing to do with justice.

"The trial is actually aimed at condemning some ideas, and usually has anti-Ukrainian character," she said.

She noted that the verdict repeatedly condemned the events of Maidan protests in Kyiv, instead of giving a legal assessment of the actions of Andriy Kolomiets. The verdict in his case is similar to the verdict in the case of another Euromaidan activist Oleksandr Kostenko, sentenced by the occupation authorities to 4 years and 3 months in a colony.

Lawyer Mikhail Kushpel describes the sentence as "blatant and cynical." His client is accused of actions which are not confirmed by the case files.

The evidence of prosecution, as noted by the lawyer, is only two black-and-white photographs of allegedly burnt uniform of those Berkut officers.

People, claiming they are victims, at that time were the citizens of Ukraine and Officers of Berkut riot police force.

Olha Skrypnyk underscores that the lawyer proved during the court hearing that Ukraine was investigating the events on Maidan, including the events during which the Berkut officers had been injured. Consequently, the occupation authorities have no legal grounds to investigate those actions and prosecute the citizens of Ukraine.

The lawyer gave judge Mikhail Belousov a response from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, saying that criminal proceedings over those events were opened in Ukraine. However, Mikhail Belousov did not take the document into consideration.

However, he took into account the testimony Andriy Kolomiets gave under tortures as the proof of his guilt.

Tortures

In March 2016, Mikhail Kushpel reported to the Investigation Committee, the Interior Ministry and the prosecutor's office departments of the North Caucasus Federal District on tortures used against Andriy Kolomiets in Kabardino-Balkaria.

"All my messages were grouped in the investigation department in Nalchik town, on whose behalf Kolomiets was interrogated in a remand prison, when he was in Crimea. I found this out by chance in June this year. It was another flagrant violation because I was not present during the interrogation," the lawyer said.

According to him, the electric current, passed through Andriy, significantly worsened his health status. However, a forensic medical examination has not been carried out.

Olha Skrypnyk said that tortures had driven Andriy Kolomiets to suicidal state of mind.

Improper detention conditions

Currently, Andriy Kolomiets stays in a remand prison in Simferopol city in Crimea, where there are improper detention conditions, the lawyer says.

"The conditions in the remand prison are close to torture. For example, when I was there on July 20, Andriy explained that in late July the water was available for an hour a day," Mikhail Kushpel noted.

According to him, the ward, where Andriy Kolomiets stays, is designed for six people, but there are ten people there.

Relatives of Andriy Kolomiets have not come to the remand prison. His family lives in Kyiv region. The parents of Kolomiets, according to Olha Skrypnyk, are elderly people. They cannot go to Crimea because of their health condition and financial difficulties.

The Crimean Human Rights Group regrets that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has not filed a protest note to Russia over the prosecution of Andriy Kolomiets and complains about the extremely low coordination between the Ukrainian authorities on the issue of release of Ukrainian political prisoners.

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