A trial of Vitaliy Shabunin, Head of the Board of the Anti-corruption Action Centre, is to start next week. Olena Kozachuk, judge of Dniprovskyi Disctrict Court is to hear the case. The first hearing is to be held on January 30, 2018, at 2:30 pm at the address: Kyiv, 5, Koshytsia Street, office 103.
Shabunin is threatened with limitation of freedom or imprisonment for up to five years. He is charged with punching Filimonenko, the assistant to a Radical Party MP Melnychuk. The incident happened on June 8, 2017 near Dniprovskyi Military Commissariat of Kyiv. Filimonenko calls himself a journalist, but he is better known for his provocative videos, than for journalist publications. It can be seen in the published video, that the so-called “journalist” provoked Shabunin, and the latter punched Filimonenko’s face for having earlier insulted his colleague after she was driven to tears. After some time Filimonenko, safe and sound, ran to Shabunin and sprayed pepper spray in his face.
On August 16 Shabunin was served a notice of suspicion. The evidences, collected in the case, specifically medical examination results, contain a lot of mistakes and mismatches.
Vitaliy Shabunin is charged with infliction of medium grave bodily injury on a journalist – part 2 of article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. “Political motivation of the case is clear for everybody, – says Daria Kaleniuk, CEO of Antac and lawyer. Criminal proceeding on falsification of the medical examination, which is the ground for making up the case, is not actually investigated, nonetheless we see rapid advance of the case against Shabunin despite total lack of evidence”, – she adds.
For instance, according to the medical examination – the fracture of the wall of the Maxillary sinus, mentioned by the prosecutors, was discovered by the doctors as late as 12 days after the incident. Moreover, the fracture was registered on the opposite side – not the one that was hit – as it can be bee seen on the video.
It is worth noting that since the investigation started, the prosecution has several times changed its point of view on the correct qualification of the case. All in all, 7.5 months passed since the beginning of the investigation (June 8), 5 months passed since the first note of suspicion was handed to Shabunin (August 16). First, the activist was incriminated a crime under part 2 of article 345-1 (violence against a journalist), but after the public criticism of journalists – the prosecution changed their mind and notified of suspicion under part 1 of article 122 (medium grave bodily injury). 5 months later, the crime qualification was changed to the battery of a journalist.
According to the court order, 10 investigators were working on the case.
It is a notable point that other cases of assault and battery of journalists are investigated by the law enforcement without any results. Few of the cases are submitted to the consideration by courts. In particular, after the Revolution of Dignity, only 4 verdicts were passed under article 345-1 incriminated to Shabunin. Two cases ended in settlement agreement, while in the third case the accused was released and got a suspended sentence. If Shabunin’s ‘guilt’ is proved he may face 5 years in prison.
RPR calls on the authorities to stop political persecution of the Chairman of the Board of Anticorruption Action Center.