As part of the on-going (and somewhat glacial) reform of the Ukrainian judiciary, the 12th January 2017 saw a body known as the High Council of Justice begin working.
New legislation provides the HCJ with the power to allow a judge to be arrested, detained and dismissed.
The legislation also insured a collegial, constitutional, independent body would, so far as is possible, be just that – independent.
Some months after it began operating, the HCJ has granted a PGO appeal by Dmitry Storozhuk to allow the detention of Konstantine Bobovskogo, a well known judge from the Suvorov District Court in Odessa, who on 1st November 2016, in cahoots with a lawyer, was caught soliciting a bribe of $2,000 from a defendant to insure incarceration was not a judicial outcome.
(Needless to say he is well known for the wrong reasons like so many (but not all) judges in Odessa.)
The first HCJ decision relating to any judge in Ukraine happens to be the granting of Konstantine Bobovskogo’s detention – and rightly so, for the learned Judge will be a high probability flight risk. Not only that, should Mr Bobovskogo have remained at liberty (no matter if it be a restricted liberty), he is certainly likely to attempt to coerce his colleagues, interfere with witnesses and attempt to tamper with (destroy) evidence. Self preservation is a real motivator after all.
If only Judge Bobovskogo was the worst of the worst in Odessa, for then this very positive and precedent setting act by the HCJ would have more resonance within society. Though he is far from being fit to hold such office and should be incarcerated, he is not the most corrupt judge on the Odessa circuits – that is a title with several contenders who dwell in Dante circles far, far lower.
Nevertheless, the HCJ can only consider those PGO requests put before it – and they are thus far one for one, as Judge Bobovskogo was the first PGO request put before the HJC and became the first to be granted.
A reader will probably be wondering why there are not dozens of such PGO requests with the HCJ – and rightly so. Nevertheless, as with all precedents, observing due process take its course from start to finish may be a wise thing to do.