Russian authorities take issue with complaints by Aleksei Pichugin’s defence team

posted 16 Nov 2014, 11:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Nov 2014, 11:32 ]
10 November 2014

By Vera Vasilieva

Source: HRO.org 
The Russia authorities have sent the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe their own report in response to the complaint addressed to the Committee by lawyers acting for Aleksei Pichugin regarding the failure of Russia to implement the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in respect of the former Yukos employee.

The authorities argue that the judgment of the ECtHR has been implemented in full.

On 23 October 2012 the ECtHR found the proceedings of the first criminal case against Pichugin unfair. In relation to the investigation in Pichugin’s case the Court found violations of Article 6 (“the Right to Fair Court Proceedings”) and Article 5 (“the Right to Liberty and Personal Security”) of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Court stated in this connection that “the most appropriate form of compensation, essentially, would be either new court proceedings or investigation”.

Ksenia Kostromina, defence lawyer acting for the former Yukos employee, told HRO.org that: “the decision of the ECtHR on the violation of Pichugin’s right to fair trial could be grounds for setting aside the judgment against him. According to Article 413 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Russia must address the Presidium of the Supreme Court with a proposal to consider revocation or amendment of the decision in this case.”

However, on 23 October 2013 the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the RF presided over by Petr Serkov, First Deputy Chair of the Supreme Court of the RF, refused to comply with the decision of the Strasbourg Court which found Pichugin’s court proceedings unfair (in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and ruled that Pichugin’s sentencing must be set aside.

However, the Russian supreme judicial authority limited itself to revoking a number of decisions prolonging Pichugin’s pre-trial detention made by Basmanny Court and Moscow City Court. The Supreme Court did this on the basis of the ECtHR’s decision that the gravity of the charges brought against Pichugin, were not in themselves sufficient grounds to prolong his pre-trial detention. Unfortunately, these decisions to quash the prolongation of detention cannot make any difference to Pichugin’s fate as he is already serving his sentence.

Commenting on the ruling of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the RF, Ksenia Kostromina said: “Formally, they revoked the decision concerning pre-trial detention. However, this made no difference with respect to the essence of the matter. The European Court found violations of Article 6 in two respects. However, neither the sentence nor the cassational ruling were set aside. I believe that the judgment of the ECtHR will not be implemented since the norms of public openness were violated and the ECtHR found that the main prosecution witness was not properly questioned by the defence, with the connivance of the court.”

Now, after being informed of the views of both parties in the case, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe must decide whether the Russian authorities have fulfilled the judgment of the ECtHR in the case of Aleksei Pichugin.

Translated by Olga Cable
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