Court closes criminal cases against Vilkul, Kolesnikov due to expiry of statute on limitations
The Zhovtnevy Court of Dnipro has freed former Members of Parliament from Opposition Bloc Oleksandr Vilkul and Dmytro Kolesnikov from criminal liability due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
The relevant rulings were published in the register of court decisions, the ezine Trial Reporter has said.
The MPs had been charged under Part 2 of Article 364 (abuse of power or official position, which led to grave consequences) of Ukraine's Criminal Code. The sanction of the article prescribes punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of up to six years, and the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution is 10 years.
After the transfer of the cases to court, the charges were changed to Part 2 of Article 367 (official negligence) of Ukraine's Criminal Code. This crime qualifies as moderate, with a statute of limitations of five years, which allowed the defense to petition for the closure of cases. It is noted that the defendants had the opportunity to insist on the continuation of the proceedings after the expiration of the limitation period to establish the truth.
The Vilkul case was closed on January 28, 2020. The indictment referred to Vilkul's actions from March 2010 to December 2012, when he headed the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration. He was accused of illegally changing the intended purpose of 21 hectares of collective property of the successors of the former collective farms with the lease of OJSC Ordzhonikidze Mining and Processing Plant. The losses of the victims amounted to more than UAH 12 million. In addition, the state suffered losses in the amount of UAH 486,000 from the removal of soil cover without special permission.
Vilkul was also charged with illegally changing the type of land with an area of 45.4 hectares for LLC ART LAND, which created conditions for further illegal changes to the purpose of land use. Damages were estimated at UAH 5 million.
The charges were later reclassified to a lighter article, and Vilkul's lawyer filed a petition for his release from liability due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The defense continues to insist that all actions of Vilkul were lawful and justified, that no crime was committed and criminal proceedings against him are politically motivated.
Vilkul himself gave written consent to close the case and emphasized that he did not consider himself guilty.
The prosecutors did not raise any objection to the satisfaction of the request. The heads of village councils and collective farms also agreed to change the charge.
The court closed the case, noting that the establishment of guilt was not decided. The prosecutor and representatives of the victims retained the opportunity to go to court to recover damages in a civil procedure.
A similar ruling was made in the case against Kolesnikov, who headed the State Agency for Management of State Corporate Rights and Property of Ukraine under former President Viktor Yanukovych.
According to the prosecution, Kolesnikov approved changes to the property list of the state enterprise, which is not subject to privatization, that did not include two buildings. In the future, this allowed the sale of objects excluded from the list. The amount of damage to state interests exceeded UAH 16 million.
Kolesnikov has denied guilt and did not object to the exemption from criminal liability and the closure of the case due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Serhiy Melnychenko of Dnipro's Zhovtnevy Court delivered both rulings.