Husband of critical campaigner repeatedly sentenced to three years in prison
On April 4, the Court of Mahiliou’s Kastrychnitski district, according to the decision of the Mahiliou Regional Court, confirmed the sentencing of Piotr Kuchura, whose wife Liudmila Kuchura is famous for her involvement in a campaign against lawlessness of law enforcement officials, to a three-year prison term. The verdict was announced despite the fact that the Regional Court found significant violations of the criminal procedural law during the first trial.
As previously reported by the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, the prisoner told in a telephone conversation with his wife that he was about to be transferred back to the penal colony from prison No. 4 in Mahiliou. Later it became known that the materials of Piotr Kuchura’s case were sent for a new trial.
Liudmila Kuchura told human rights defenders that when reading the first decision of the Kastrychnitski District Court she suspected the judge of being in collusion with the administration of the penal facility, who, in her opinion, had always wanted to get rid of an inconvenient prisoner. “I started to have doubts when I read the record of the hearing and the decision of the court. Since the trial took only 30 minutes, from 12:00 to 12:30. My husband had eight penalties, but none of them was considered. That is, even I, not a lawyer, can clearly see violations by our justice.”
Not wanting to put up with it, Ms. Kuchura sent to the President, the Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Supreme Court a statement about bringing a judge to disciplinary liability in accordance with Articles 111 and 115 of the Code on Judiciary and the Status of Judges. “The Presidential administration sent me back my statement with all the appendices and wrote that the correspondence with me was terminated. Although, according to the same Article 115, the President has the right to initiate disciplinary proceedings against all judges. The Ministry of Justice forwarded my application to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, on behalf of the Chairman of the Criminal Division Kalinkovich, said that was just my opinion and there were no violations and all was legal...”
In light of such findings by Valery Kalinkovich, the decision of the Presidium of the Regional Court to abolish the maximum-security regime was really unexpected.
“By a court ruling, convict P.K. Kuchura, who is serving a sentence of imprisonment, has been transferred to the prison regime. A protest of the Prosecutor of the Mahiliou region raises the question of cancellation of the decision due to a substantial violation of the criminal procedure law. Having checked the materials, discussed the arguments set forth in the complaint, the Presidium finds it subject to approval,” said in the decision.
“That’s exactly what I reported to the Supreme Court! It turns out that a representative of the highest court Kalinkovich knows no law. He sees no violations. And the regional court sees them,” says Liudmila Kuchura. On the eve of a retrial, she sent a telegram to the Chairman of the Kastrychnitski District Court with a request to consider the matter in accordance with the law and to eliminate the mistakes of the previous judge. The convict’s wife hoped that it would be so. Although she noted that “such judges as Kalinkovich, of course, undermine our hope”.
Doubts about the successful outcome of the retrial were also aroused by the behavior of the administration of Mahiliou penal colony No. 15. “After returning to the colony, the convict must be held in quarantine for three days, after which he is sent to the unit. But apparently, the management of the colony did not really want other prisoners to see my husband and learn that the decision on the prison regime had been canceled,” says Liudmila. “My husband was offered to be placed in prison hospital, they said he had a heart problem... That means that even before reviewing the case they were confident that the court would side with the penal colony. Because they did not want to send him back to the unit. But my husband, of course, refused to go to hospital, and as far as I know, on Wednesday he was supposed to be sent to the unit...”
Piotr Kuchura was transferred to prison No. 4 in Mahiliou on December 30 by order of the court of Kastrychnitski district of December 26, 2013. At the time, Liudmila Kuchura, with assistance from the HRC “Viasna”, was trying to seek punishment for administration and staff of the prison for the torture of her husband. Having exhausted all legal remedies at the national level, in March she filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee.