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Ukraine 5AM coalition condemns the "sentences" issued to three Ukrainian POWs

10.03.2023, 17:09
Photo: ZMINA
Photo: ZMINA

The "Ukraine 5AM" coalition condemned the "sentences" issued by the "courts" of ORDLO to three Ukrainian POWs, including human rights activist Maksym Butkevych. The address was published on the website of the human rights organization ZMINA.

The coalition is convinced that these trials are targeted towards a domestic Russian audience and do not have any legal force in terms of judicial standards.

"Instead, they once again prove that the Russian government and its proxy structures in Ukraine's occupied territories are committing war crimes against prisoners of war. After all, the so-called 'trials' against Ukrainian servicemen take place behind closed doors, in violation of all possible judicial standards, and are carried out by quasi-organizations not recognized by the global community," the statement reads.

The coalition notes that the Russian Federation and the formations it backs based off their quasi-legal system off the legislations of Russia the Soviet Union.

"In this way, the 'judicial' system of the quasi-republics, although it has evolved from 'field courts' to district courts, 'military tribunals', 'supreme courts' and 'courts of appeal' over the past eight years of occupation, is still entirely dependent on the heads of the occupation administrations and functions as part of the executive branch of the government. The heads of the so-called 'republics' have unlimited influence over the entire judicial system, which completely undermines the principle of separating the branches of the government and of independence and autonomy of these branches," the statement reads.

In particular, the coalition notes, the so-called "judicial" system created in this way does not ensure the proper administration of justice and does not adhere to the principles of justice, legality, legal certainty, etc. And today's sentences to three Ukrainian POWs proved this once again.

The coalition stresses that violating the POWs' right to a fair trial is a war crime. They point out that this practice is also prohibited by the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and by the generally accepted international norms of criminal investigation.

"The absurdity of these 'trials' is also made evident by the content of the allegations brought against Maksym Butkevych, a well-known human rights activist who believes in the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. It is obvious to everyone who knows Maksym that his 'confession' to abusing civilians, which was filmed by Russian investigators, has nothing to do with reality and was given under pressure and by means of probably physical violence," the statement reads.

The coalition believes that the news about the conviction of Ukrainian POWs should encourage the international community to increase pressure on Russia, demanding humane treatment for prisoners of war, as well as to step up the ICRC's efforts "to gain access to them and monitor the conditions of their detention, as well as to bring about the prompt release of all persons detained by Russia – both the Ukrainian military and civilian citizens."

As IMI reported, on March 10, the official website of the Investigative Committee of Russia reported that the "courts" of the ORDLO have sentenced three Ukrainian POWs – Maksym Butkevych (13 years in prison), Victor Pokhoziy (8,5 years), and Vladyslav Shelya (18,5 years).

They were found guilty "of abusing the civilian population and using prohibited methods in an armed conflict (Part 1 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation)."

The "Ukrane 5AM" coalition began on February 25, 2022 – the day after the new stage of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine started. As of now, the coalition has 31 members – Ukrainian and international public organizations.

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