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In absentia or left forever as wanted? Due process choices

August 9, 2016

It appears that Prosecutor General Lutsenko has summonsed President Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yatseniuk, Governor Moskal, Mayor Klitschko, Oleh Lyashko, NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov, parliamentary Speaker Paruby and a host of other public figures to the prosecutors office to provide witness statements regarding the events of EuroMaiden/Revolution of Dignity covering the period January – February 2014.

Meanwhile about a month ago some of the political elites in Odessa were questioned and gave witness statements over the events of 2nd May 2014.  According to those elites interviewed in Odessa that this blog has spoken with, the questioning was very thorough and very detailed – to their surprise.

Too late came the cry – regarding both incidents?

Probably, in so as far as actually jailing many of the decision makers and puppeteers behind these events.  Those that see the inside of a Ukrainian jail as a result of their actions, for the most part will be expendable sacrificial lambs.  Some decision makers and puppeteers have long since fled Ukraine.  Others that remain, considering the Ukrainian system will have long since fled by the time their arrest is sanctioned – if that ever comes to pass.

Nevertheless witness statements from all witnesses should be obtained where possible – even this late in the day.  Those that have been, and subsequently will be formally identified as suspects. require a body of documented evidence to justify that formal suspicion – whether or not Ukraine then decides to try and circulate them as wanted internationally, and whether or not there is any chance of extradition if it does.

The issue of any serious offences becoming “statute barred” would seem to have been circumvented now that Ukraine has adopted a law providing for trial “in absentia” – although there has yet to be a trail “in absentia“, no doubt that precedent will fairly soon be set.  The only questions to be answered are who will be the first absent defendant and  for what offences?

absentia

In such cases, perhaps it is worth considering what the victims and their relatives think.

If the victim is the (perceived) “faceless State” in $ billion thefts by former self-exiled officials, then trial in absentia is perhaps requires less thoughtfulness than when victims and their relatives have a distinctly human face.

It does not follow that because “the State” wants due process completed, guilt (or innocence) given by way of verdict, sentencing handed down, and case thereby closed “in absentia“, that a relative(s) want to take that route to a final judicial outcome.  Victims and/or their relatives may prefer to wait for as long as it takes to see the accused physically in court (mindful of any statute barred limitations).

It was, and remains, a standard response from many following a rape to say to the victim “I hope they catch the bastard and throw away the key” (or much more brutal alternatives) – often because there are few other things people can think of to say to a rape victim.  That is perhaps preferable to sympathy which simply reinforces the victim’s self identification as a victim (or so this blog was told many years ago by a rape victim shortly after the offence).  Very few people seem to be able to empathise with the victim – which of the options stated above clearly puts the victim first and makes them feel far more in control of the aftermath, and rightly reduces the offender to a secondary albeit important consideration.

Ergo is a victim seeks empathy and some form of empowerment in any due process, it perhaps should follow that despite some recent, clear momentum in an otherwise untimely and fumbled investigation (indeed multiple untimely and fumbled investigations) relating to these tragic events, that because trial in absentia is possible and would bring about judicial and political “closure” for “the State”, that the victims and their relatives would also find this preferable over having formal suspects identified and circulated as wanted – for decades if necessary – pending seeing the defendant in a court and tried in person (should that day come).

Should the victims and/or their relatives have any input into the legal options for dealing with those suspected of causing them injury – even if their decisions are subsequently politically less than optimal for those running “the State”?  A reader may wonder whether “the State” will show any empathy toward the victims and their relatives once trials in absentia start being slated for judicial process in the coming months.

Does it matter either way if the accused has already fled with little chance of their return?  It will for some.

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