UPDATED: Ukraine's bill on anti-corruption court passes its first reading
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ukraine's parliament, passed bill No. 7440 "On the High Anti-Corruption Court" in its first reading at a plenary session on Thursday morning.
Some 282 Ukrainian MPs backed the bill, including 101 MPs from the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko parliamentary faction, 67 MPs from the People's Front Party, 14 from the Radical Party, 22 from the Samopomich Party, 19 from the Batkivshchyna Party, two from the Opposition Bloc, eight from the Volia Narodu ("Will of the People"), and 15 from the Vidrodzhennia Group, an UNIAN correspondent reported.
According to the bill, the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) is defined as a permanent high specialized court in the judicial system of Ukraine. The specialized anti-corruption court should consider criminal proceedings related to "crimes containing a corruption component."
Read alsoSenior prosecutor says no way Ukraine's new Anti-Corruption Court to launch work this yearThe draft law proposes entrusting the High Anti-Corruption Court with the consideration of criminal cases both in relation to corruption under the Criminal Code of Ukraine (namely, crimes under articles 191, 262, 308, 312, 313, 320, 357, 410 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine committed through abuse of office under articles 210, 354, 364, 364-1, 365-2, 368 – 369-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and to other crimes combined with corruption in one criminal case.
The explanatory note stipulates that such an approach will ensure that the High Anti-Corruption Court considers criminal proceedings concerning legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime (Article 209 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) if legalization (laundering) involves proceeds from corrupt practices. With this approach, the High Anti-Corruption Court will deal with such crimes of the Criminal Code of Ukraine as the creation of a criminal organization (Article 255), assistance to members of criminal organizations and the concealment of their criminal activities (Article 256) if they are related to corruption.
Read alsoIMF refutes reports on softer stance toward anti-corruption court in UkraineThe bill states that corruption and corruption-related crimes will fall within the High Anti-Corruption Court's jurisdiction if the amount of a subject of a crime or caused damage exceeds the living minimum wage for able-bodied persons as of the time of the crime by 500 times or more. It states that other courts cannot handle criminal proceedings if crimes fall within the High Anti-Corruption Court's jurisdiction. The exception will be corruption-related crimes committed by judges or personnel of the High Anti-Corruption Court (such proceedings will not be considered by the High Anti-Corruption Court) and cases where, as a result of judge rejection, it will be impossible to create a panel of judges in court. In this case, criminal proceedings in the first instance are proposed to be assigned to the Court of Appeals whose jurisdiction extends to the city of Kyiv.
The bill is expected to extend the jurisdiction of the High Anti-Corruption Court to the entire territory of Ukraine. At the same time, it suggests refraining from the introduction of local anti-corruption courts, posts of anti-corruption judges in local or appellate courts, or investigative judges in anti-corruption criminal proceedings, considering the possible workload and risks of influence by the regional elites. The bill does not provide for the accommodation of the chambers of the High Anti-Corruption Court, its individual judges in different towns or cities.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tabled the draft law on the Higher Anti-Corruption Court in parliament on December 22.
He simultaneously registered a bill with amendments to the law on the judiciary and status of judges that are related to the draft law on the Higher Anti-Corruption Court.