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Judge who helped release Gongadze's murderer receives millions in state pension

02.10.2023, 17:13
Photo: Slidstvo.Info
Photo: Slidstvo.Info

The Supreme Council of Justice sent Supreme Court let judge Serhiy Slynyk go into retirement, granting him a lifelong pension of about 100,000 hryvnias per month. The judge was complicit in the political persecution of Viktor Yanukovych's opponents, did not comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, had declaration issues, and together with other judges released the murderer of the "Ukrainian Pravda" founder Heorhiy Gongadze from custody, reports Sildstvo.Info.

According to the media outlet, Serhiy Slynko retired from the post of a Supreme Court judge after 30 years of service. In 2017, the judge was recognized by the Public Integrity Council (PIC) as not meeting the integrity and professional ethics criteria, in particular due to his rulings.

Slynko is known for being one of the three Kyiv Court of Appeal judges who released the murderer of the "Ukrainian Pravda" founder Heorhiy Gongadze – the former head of the External Surveillance Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Oleksiy Pukach – from custody. After that, Pukach ran away and evaded the police for almost six years before he was caught in a village in Zhytomyr Oblast.

Judge Slynko was also involved in the conviction of former Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, during Viktor Yanukovych's presidency. Back then, the international community stated that there were no courts in Ukraine that adhered to international standards for a fair, transparent and independent judicial process.

Yuriy Lutsenko was convicted in 2012. He tried to contest the sentence in a Ukrainian court but lost, so he appealed the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In July 2012, the ECHR ruled that the trial in Lutsenko's case violated multiple articles of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In April 2013, Yuriy Lutsenko's cassation appeal against his sentence was considered by a panel of judges headed by Slynko. Despite the ECHR's ruling, the judges unanimously upheld the verdict.

In their conclusion, the PIC stresses that Yuriy Lutsenko's case was not just an act of persecution against a political opponent by the clan of the fugitive former president, but an attempt to prove to the society that justice is also in the hands of this clan. With their actions, the government was trying to show citizens that their expectations for justice were fuitle, to show that everything was predetermined and could not be affected in any way, and that courts and judges were just tools to achieve this goal.

"The involvement of the Candidate (Serhiy Slynko. – Ed.) in this scenario as the presiding judge of the highest judicial instance is a huge stain on the reputation of other judges, as well as the judicial system and the Ukrainian government as a whole," writes the PIC in their conclusion.

Yuriy Lutsenko's sentence was overturned no earlier than 2014 on the basis of the Law "On the Rehabilitation of Persons in Execution of Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights."

Slynko concealed his involvement in this trial. In a special declaration of integrity submitted by the judge, he is supposed to confirm that he did not make any questionable decisions, as in the Lutsenko's case. The judge lied in this declaration, Slidstvo.Info notes.

He also concealed being involved in the trial against Dmytro Pavlichenko and his son Serhiy. They were convicted for the brutal murder of a judge in March 2011. The case gained public traction due to the low-quality work of the police and the judges. The public had the impression that the Pavlichenkos were the "scapegoats" in that case, while the real murderers walked free.

Serhiy Slynko was in the panel of judges which upheld the ruling convicting the Pavlichenkos. In 2014, they were amnestied as political prisoners.

The PIC found out that Slynko bought a country house and two expensive cars, valuable weapons, and about once a year the whole family of four travels together with their children. However, none of these expenses are covered by the judge's declarations.

Despite all his objectionable decisions and scandals, Slynko remained a judge, got to the Supreme Court and resigned on April 18, 2023. Now, as a retired judge, the state has to pay him about 100,000 hryvnias from the budget every month for the rest of his life.

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