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Kyiv court speaker tears a journalist's request for attending a hearing against a Lavra priest

05.12.2022, 17:03

"Watchers" journalist Alina Kondratenko reported that the spokeswoman of the Solomyansky District Court of Kyiv, Alyona Petukhova, tore up her request for access to an open court session in front of her. The incident happened on December 2, Alina Kondratenko told IMI.

According to the journalist, she came to attend the court hearing which was supposed to consider a petition regarding the measure of restraint against one of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra priests, suspected of justifying the Russian aggression.

As Alina pointed out, the spokeswoman printed out her petition, which had been sent by email in advance, and said that it should have an electronic signature. The journalist clarified that that she had attended meetings in this court before, sending requests by email without a signature, and the court's staff had no questions.

"I walked into the court, the spokeswoman called me to the main office. And there she had my request printed out and already on the table. She asks: 'Why didn't you think of putting an electronic signature on it?' I asked where the need for an electronic signature on a mass media request was regulated (since there was no such requirement before). The spokeswoman lost her temper and tore the request into small pieces in front of me. I immediately started recording it on my phone, asking: 'Why did you tear up my request?' She said that there had been no request and she did not tear anything," said Alina Kondratenko.

The journalist added that she had signed the printed request, which was torn up by the spokeswoman, with a pen.

After that, Kondratenko said, the court sent a letter to her email address. It said that her request did not contain the necessary elements, such as an electronic signature, and for the court to review it, it has to be properly made.

"Emails which have no return address, where the sender's address is unknown, and which contain no signature by which the sender could be identified are not subject to processing. Opening files attached to such emails is strictly prohibited. Therefore, your electronic message does not constitute a document of any kind (application, petition, request, etc.), nor does it have any document that contains the above-mentioned details attached to it. Thus, in order for the court to accept your application for registration and consideration, we ask that you send it in a proper form," the court's letter said.

In the end, the journalist was allowed to attend the court session, as she wrote a new request on the spot.

In her comment to the IMI representative, the Solomyansky District Court spokeswoman, Alyona Petukhova, explained that she had torn up the printed request because it did not have an electronic signature and did not meet the legal requirements due to this. After the journalist wrote a new request by hand on a new piece of paper and put her signature on it, it was granted.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko noted that free listeners, including journalists, do not need to submit a request for attending an open court session in a criminal trial. According to Part 2 of Article 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code, during quarantine, the court can limit access to a hearing "if participation in the hearing would pose a threat to a person'e life or health," but again, requests have nothing to do with this. According to him, the CPC does not regulate the status of a free listener at all; such listeners are not mentioned among the participants in the process (see paragraph 5 of the code in particular), and are not obligated to submit any requests, even on filming or broadcasting the hearing, which requires a permission from the court.

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