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.
If Shabunin is found 'guilty' he may face 5 years in prison.
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 in 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 Oleksandra Ustinova after she was driven to tears. In a few minutes after being punched Filimonenko refused from medical treatment of the ambulance, and safe and sound continued his provocations - ran to Shabunin and sprayed in his face.
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, – says Daria Kaleniuk, AntAC CEO and lawyer. The case is grounded on allegedly falsified medical examination of Filimonenko, who we believe was not severely injured. We have submitted a crime report to the police to investigate the alleged falsification, however the case is stalled. While we observe rapid advance of the case against Shabunin in which the medical examination is the core 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 for trial. In particular, after the Revolution of Dignity, only 4 verdicts were passed under article 345-1, which is incriminated to Shabunin. Two cases ended in settlement agreement, while in the third case the accused was released and got a suspended sentence.
Vitaliy admits his guilt for punching another person and is ready to face responsibility for his conduct, however not for the conduct which is invented by prosecutors based on the falsified evidence.
We ask our international partners for a close attention to this case, which we consider as part of systemic planned attacks on AntAC. More details about other attacks are available here.