European Court of Human Rights
ECHR rules against Ukraine in Lutsenko case
By Anca Gurzu | Wednesday 04 July 2012
Ukrainian authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained the country’s opposition leader on “questionable” grounds in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled, on 3 July. The ruling comes amidst ongoing criticism and concerns over the state of rule of law and democracy in Ukraine, where public figures like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko have received lengthy prison sentences.
Former Minister of Interior Yuriy Lutsenko, who is the leader of the opposition party Narodna Samooborona, was arrested on 26 December 2010 over allegations of abuse of office. The General Prosecturor’s Office in Ukraine brought different criminal charges against him, such as arranging benefits for his driver or suspecting him of unlawful authorisation of search and seizure operations against an individual.
Lutsenko lodged an application with the ECHR on 21 January 2011, arguing his arrest and detention violated the Convention on Human Rights. A chamber hearing was held on 17 April 2012.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, following the criminal charges brought against him in 2010, Lutsenko was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, on 27 February 2012. The judgement was upheld on 16 May.
In its ruling of 3 July, the ECHR found that the politician’s arrest had been arbitrary, with no reasons given for his detention. Judges also ruled that the accused had not been duly informed of the reasons for his detention, and that the lawfulness of his arrest and detention had not been properly reviewed. The court defended Lutsenko’s right to use the media to fend off accusations brought against him. Ukrainian authorities had indicated the politician’s communication with the media was one of the grounds for the arrest, arguing he could influence the trial.