Hrodna: Criminal Case against Notorious Judge Stopped

2006 2006-09-08T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

According to an article by Iryna Charniauka, published in Nasha niva

Non-judged Judge

In January 2006 KGB initiated a criminal case against the judge of Hrodna Leninski Borough Court Dzmitry Dzemchanka. The case concerned receiving a large bribe by the judge and was brought by the General Prosecutor’s Office on Lukashenka’s permission. Mr Dzemchanka retired from the judge’s position and lost his immunity.

Dzmitry Dzemchanka appeared in reports about human rights violations long ago. Despite quite a young age (now he is 33) Mr Dzemchanka managed to give hard sentences to many public activists and independent journalists of Hrodna. For instance, in 2002 he tried 13 Hrodna journalists for participation in pickets in defense of the Pahonia newspaper that had been liquidated by the authorities. He sentenced six of them to 3-15 days of jail and fined 4 more. That’s why the news about the criminal case against him was quite interesting to Hrodna publicity.

The first to find about Dzemchanka’s retirement was his last prisoner, the leader of the strike committee of Belarusian entrepreneurs Valery Levaneuski. In 2004 Dzemchanka considered the criminal case for ˜insult of president’ that was brought against Levaneuski and his deputy ALiaksandr Vasilieu. The judge sentenced the defendants to 2 and 1,5 years of jail respectively. On his release in May 2006 Mr Levaneuski complained to Hrodna Regional Prosecutor’s Office, asking to punish the judge for the unfair verdict. In his answer a senior investigator of the prosecutor’s office informed V.Levaneuski that a criminal case had already been brought against Dzemchanka, whereas the workers of Hrodna Leninski Borough Court said he no longer worked there.

The criminal case was brought after the father of a 20-year-old boy who was sentenced to 8 years of jail for pushing marijuana filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. The father stated that since June till September 2005 he, with the aid of a mediator (an entrepreneur, acquaintance of his), passed to the judge $25 000 for the promised in shortening the prison term to his son at the cassation instance, Hrodna Regional Court. It’s quite interesting that the previous year the judge considered a criminal case that was brought against the ˜mediator’ for cheating and sentenced him to personal restraint that was later replaced with corrective labor. Later, according to Dz. Dzemchanka, they several times met in the same company.

After the cassation of the youngster failed at the regional and at the Supreme Court the father demanded his money back. In November the judge returned $13 000 and said it was the whole sum that was passed to him by the mediator. For several weeks the father kept paying daily visits to the judge, claiming the rest, $12 000 and threatening to apply to KGB. He also recorded their talks to a Dictaphone. In January he abandoned the hope to receive the money and finally applied to KGB.

The case was brought and both the mediator and the judge became suspects. However, they had different status and behaved in different ways. Predictably enough, their fates differed much as well.

Dzemchanka being a judge it was necessary for the case against him to be brought by the General Prosecutor’s Office on permission of the ˜organ that appointed the judge’. In Belarus all judges are appointed by the president. In January Dzemchanka came to KGB as a self-reported criminal and didn’t refuse the fact he participated in passing the bribe. That’s why in five months the investigation of the case against him was stopped and he became a witness at the trial.

The ˜mediator’, on the contrary, took no blame during the investigation and refused to testify at the trial. As a result, he became the main accused and in the beginning of August on the basis of the witnesses’ testimonies was sentenced to 8 years of jail for ˜cheating’ and ˜instigation to bribe’.

Still, after half a year of investigation the location of the lost $12 000 is still unknown. Dzemchanka and other witnesses described the scheme of passing the money during the open trial of the ˜mediator’.

The father stated he had passed to the ˜mediator’ for Dzemchanka $3 000, in August -- $20 000 and in September -- $2 000. Dzemchanka said he received from the ˜mediator’ $8 000 and $5 000 and then passed it all to another judge. In November, when the prisoner’s father started claming the money back, that judge returned it and Dzemchanka passed it back to the father. At the investigative interrogations the former stated he had no relation to the whole story at all. Despite the fact that he is referred to in a number of the investigation’s documents, he figured neither in the criminal case nor at the trial.

Thus, the chain corruption ends on Dz. Dzemchanka. Still, the court decided it was the ˜mediator’ who kept the rest of the sum and appropriately sentenced him to 8 years of jail. Now he is kept in the investigative isolator of Hrodna and is getting ready for cassation. The judge to whom Dzemchanka allegedly passed the money continues working at court, whereas Dzemchanka has found a new job at the privatization department of Hrodna Regional Executive Committee.