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Chernihiv court forbids journalists to take an audio recording of an open hearing

15.09.2023, 17:12

On September 14 Tetyana Roshchyna, a judge of the Desnyansky District Court of Chernihiv, prohibited Suspilne.Chernihiv and 0462 reporters from taking photos, an audio or video recording of an open hearing in the case of the September 3, 2022 explosion which occurred during a charity fair in Chernihiv's old district.

The journalists informed the IMI representative in Chernihiv oblast about this.

According to 0462 reporter Serhey Karas, they submitted a request for recording permission together with journalists from Suspilne before the start of the hearing. However, the court decided to only satisfy a part of the request. On that day, the court was supposed to hear witnesses.

"We were not allowed to take video or audio recording of the witnesses' testimonies. Neither were we allowed to take photos of the accused because those are in the military. The judge explained that other witnesses may read or watch those testimonies and change their own testimonies in turn, which would affect the objectivity of the court. Yet, the judge's decision affected the objectivity of reporting. Seeing as the hearing only featured the testimonies from witnesses, there was effectively nothing to make news from," the journalist noted.

Anastasia Loza, a Suspilne.Chernihiv reporter who was present at the hearing, noted that she had never encountered such a court decision before.

"The judge allowed us to take notes during the questioning, but I don't know if we can use these notes in our material. The judge explained why our request was not satisfied in full by citing the Criminal Procedure Code, but did not specify which articles. She only added that releasing the witnesses' testimonies to the public could significantly affect the future testimonies of other witnesses. There were also people from the military present at the meeting, and all parties petitioned for a ban on filming them, which is understandable," Loza said.

IMI media lawyer Roman Holovenko notes that at an open meeting, those present may freely take notes and make audio recordings on portable devices, which is laid down in Part 6 of Article 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine.

"Taking photos or videos and broadcasting a hearing can only be done upon the court's permission. Perhaps the reason was that you can't always make sure that a person is making an audio recording and not an audio broadcast from the courtroom. I do not rule out that some changes will have to be made to the procedural codes in this aspect. Regarding the questioning of witnesses, there are, of course, requirements to ensure that witnesses who have not yet been questioned do not learn the content of the testimonies of those who have already been questioned. For this purpose, it is preferable to interrogate everyone on the same day," Holovenko commented.

We remind you that on September 3, 2022, an explosion went off in Chernihiv's old district during the charity fair "Pivnichny Sharvarok". One of the attractions was an ammunition exhibition, and a manual anti-tank grenade launcher, which was on display, went off. The explosion left eight children and seven adults injured.

The accused are two army soldiers who face imprisonment for up to three years and will have to pay over 2.5 million hryvnias in material and moral damages.

Pavlo Pushchenko, Kateryna Dyachuk

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