14:25 29.04.2019

'Court' in Crimea illegally extends keeping of Ukrainian political prisoner Balukh in Russian penal colony – human rights activists

3 min read
'Court' in Crimea illegally extends keeping of Ukrainian political prisoner Balukh in Russian penal colony – human rights activists

The de facto "Supreme Court" in Crimea has decided not to take into account the term spent by Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh in the remand center as day for a day and a half, thus extending the term of keeping him in the penal colony in Russia, the Crimean Human Rights Group has reported.

According to human rights activists, the "deputy prosecutor" asked to annul the judgement under an appeal of the "Supreme Court" in Crimea regarding Balukh in relation to taking into account the term of staying under house arrest as the term imprisonment. The "prosecutor's office" asked to recalculate the term and transfer the criminal case for a new appeal hearing by a new panel of "judges."

However, the "judge" decided that the term spent by Balukh in the remand center as day for a day and a half is not taken into account.

The decision taken by this "judge" does not comply with Part 3 of Article 72 of the Russian Criminal Code, according to which, the time of detention is counted in the term of imprisonment with the calculation of the day for a day and a half, the Crimean Human Rights Group reported. The "judge" even did not sent the case for the repeated appeal hearing as "the prosecutor's office" asked to do.

Head of the Crimean Human Rights Group Olha Skrypnik expressed hope that the "judge" will understand the mistake she had made, and the term of Balukh in the remand center will be calculated as a day and a half. Otherwise, defending lawyers will challenge this decision of the "court."

Ukrainian political activist Balukh, who placed the Ukrainian flag over his house in the occupied Crimea and refused to take it down on the local authorities' demands, was detained in December 2016. Crimea's Rozdolne district court originally sentenced him to three years and seven months of imprisonment in a low-security penal colony and to a fine of 10,000 Russian rubles. Balukh's defense team said then the case was fabricated, and his verdict would be appealed in courts of higher instances.

Then the Russia-controlled Rozdolne district court changed his sentence to five years in prison in a combination of two criminal cases. The Crimean farmer was accused of illegal possession of weapons and explosives (Part 1 of Article 222 and Part 1 of Article 222.1) and Part 2 of Article 321 (disorganization of the activities of institutions providing isolation from society) of Russia's Criminal Code.

On October 3, 2018, the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea commuted Balukh's sentence by one month.

In October 2018, Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova said after the decision of the so-called Supreme Court to commute Balukh's sentence he would be able to apply for parole.

However, on January 25, 2019, the Russia-controlled Kerch city court refused to release Balukh on parole.

Since March 29, 2019 Balukh has been staying in the penal colony in the town of Torzhok, Tver region (the Russian Federation).

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