The Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC) has found a dangerous "loophole" in the law on the High Anti-Corruption Court.
In particular, the appeals in NABU cases, which are now being heard in the first instance courts, will be considered by ordinary appellate courts instead of the Anti-Corruption Court. Such a clause appeared in the published text of the law, AntAC reported.
The amendment was neither voiced by the Head of the Committee on legal policy and justice Ruslan Kniazevych at the plenary before voting in the second reading, nor discussed during the Committee hearing, according to the report that adds that the amendment was also missing in the version, proposed by the Committee, of the comparative table for the second reading, published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada.
It is reported the provision emerged in the text of the amendments, handed over to the Committee members just one hour before the final voting, and today – it is in the officially published law.
Thus, now the law envisages that NABU cases that are already being heard in ordinary first instance courts, will be completed in ordinary appellate courts, circumventing the Anti-Corruption Court. According to previous agreements with the international partners, the appellate procedure in cases currently considered by ordinary courts, was supposed to be dealt with in the appeals chamber of the Anti-Corruption Court.
The provision would mean amnesty for all top corrupt officials, cases against whom have been transferred to courts, according to the NGO. "Such a step is a blatant change of previous agreements and the text itself right before the voting," claims Vitaliy Shabunin, AntAC head of board.
"This clause was missing in the comparative table, published on the web-site of the Verkhovna Rada, meaning the appellate procedure was foreseen in the Anti-Corruption Court. Right now cases against Martynenko, Nasirov and other odious top officials will remain in the same non-reformed courts – as we understand, in order to be left fruitless."
The clause also means that verdicts against top officials will be delivered not earlier than in 2-3 years. Establishment of the court will take at least half a year, while consideration of cases in both instances of the Anti-Corruption Court in its turn will last for around 1,5-2 years.
"This mistake should be urgently corrected by voting for the necessary amendments to the law. The provision postpones verdicts in NABU cases for few more years. That is why the President has to submit urgently amendments to the law to correct the mistake," says Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, head of Transparency International Ukraine.
On June 7, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the draft law No. 7440 on the High Anti-Corruption Court. It was supported by 315 MPs. On June 11, the president signed the law.
However, in order to establish the court one more draft law is needed. For the actual launch of the court, according to the Constitution, after prior consultations with the High Council of Justice, the president has to submit to the parliament a short draft law with just one article "The High Anti-Corruption Court is established and based in Kyiv."