European Court Demands Protection of a Roma from Loshchinovka from Torture Treatment

On November 10, 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the complaint “Minskiy and Others vs. Ukraine” regarding among others Mikhail Chebotar, a Roma who has been in custody since 2016. All this time, the investigation into the high-profile case of the murder of an 8-year-old girl, after which a pogrom occurred in Loshchinovka, Odesa region, and Roma residents were forced to leave their homes, has been dragging on. The defense of M. Chebotar insists on his innocence, and the subject of the complaint to the European Court was the long detention (more than 5 years) and inadequate conditions in the pre-trial detention center.

The court found a violation of Article 3 – the prohibition of torture and cruel or degrading treatment or punishment (cell area 1.7 sq.m per person, overcrowding, simultaneous keeping of healthy and infected with infectious diseases, lack of fresh air, lack of walks, inadequate hygienic conditions, absence or low-quality of bed linen); several paragraphs of Article 5 (5.11 – unlawful deprivation of liberty, including unregistered detention and detention without a court order, delay in drawing up an arrest report; 5.3 – excessive length of pre-trial detention; article 5.5 – lack of compensation for unlawful arrest or detention); Article13 (right to an effective remedy). The ECHR awarded Mihail Chebotar compensation in the amount of 9,800 euros.

Despite the decision of the ECHR, the Odessa Court of Appeal refused to release Mikhail Chebotar from custody. The defense is preparing an application to review the refusal at the Supreme Court.

At the same time, the trials of the first instance continue, and will soon deliver a verdict on the merits of the case. There are debates regarding the examination, to which the defense has many questions: the murder weapon has traces of DNA not only of Chebotar, and the court did not put before the expert the question of comparing them with the DNA of a person possibly involved in the case.

The trial is taking place in conditions of war: the shelling of Odessa, and constant interruptions in the electricity supply. Even in these circumstances, lawyer Andrei Leshchenko is fighting for his client and hopes for the triumph of justice:

‘Together until victory. We do not give up, and we will fight until the final release of our client!’