Gorbatuk: Prosecutors cover up for judges investigated for graft
Sergii Gorbatuk, head of the in absentia investigations unit of the Prosecutor General’s Office, has accused the leadership of the prosecutor’s office of holding back on investigating judges suspected of corruption as a means to maintain control and influence over the judiciary.
The Prosecutor General’s Office, which had denied similar accusations in the past, did not respond to requests for comment.
One prominent case concerns three incumbent and several former judges of the Constitutional Court. They are accused of issuing several rulings that enabled ex-President Viktor Yanukovych to monopolize power in 2010. The judges denied any wrongdoing in their rulings.
Since September 2014, no investigative actions were taken in the case before it was transferred to the in absentia investigations unit in 2016, Gorbatuk told the Kyiv Post.
“(The judges) were kept on a leash,” he said. “Prosecutors were told not to touch them because the judges had to issue a certain ruling. We were told that the Presidential Administration was behind such instructions.”
The Presidential Administration called the accusations “lies.”
Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko claimed that Constitutional Court judges cannot be charged due to technicalities of Ukrainian law, while Gorbatuk said that he believes they can be charged in the case.
Gorbatuk also said that Deputy Prosecutor General Anzhela Stryzhevska had been trying to take the $5,000 bribery case against Yuriy Koval, former head of Mykolayiv Oblast's Commercial Court, away from his unit.
Koval said in the interviews that law enforcers provoked him to take a bribe and consequently beat him up.
Gorbatuk claimed that Stryzhevska had summoned the prosecutor and investigator in the Koval case and asked them “How dare you complete the investigation?” Meanwhile, Koval has met with Lutsenko at an official meeting despite being a suspect, he added.
Stryzhevska did not respond to a request for comment.
Yet another example is the case of Volodymyr Babenko, chairman of Cherkasy Oblast’s Court of Appeal, who is accused of unlawfully pressuring Serhiy Bondarenko, a judge of his court, and of illegally selling a building that belonged to the Cherkasy City Council. Babenko denied the accusations.
Gorbatuk said that the investigation into the building sold by Babenko had been unlawfully taken away from his unit, and Stryzhevska had been refusing to sign a notice of suspicion in the unlawful pressure case since September.
Stryzhevska is also refusing to sign a notice of suspicion for Anatoly Ivchenko, a judge of the Kyiv Commercial Court. Ivchenko is accused of issuing an unlawful ruling when he required the Ukrainian government to satisfy the Russian Defense Ministry’s Hr 3.1 billion debt claim against United Energy Systems of Ukraine in 2012. Ivchenko couldn’t be reached for comment.