Court denies request to extend investigation of Pavlo Vovk
Ukraine’s independent High Anti-Corruption Court ruled on Jan. 6 to deny a request by investigators to extend their investigation into the criminal cases against scandalous judge Pavlo Vovk and his fellow judges, who are accused of creating a criminal organization and illegal seizure of power. The ruling is “a serious threat to the case considering it can’t be appealed. So the case will either be halted, or the pretrial investigation will conclude earlier, having been left incomplete,” said in response to the Anti-Corruption Action Centre on its Telegram channel. The officials with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau requested two more months in their investigation, which concludes on Jan. 17.
The reason the NABU request to extend the investigation was denied is because of a lack of grounds, the anti-corruption court said on its website on Jan. 11. “Evidence is lacking of a summons being issued” by investigators, the statement said. “The individual who informed the judge of the summons, during which the suspect sat in a car, truly threw two sheets of paper into the car. Yet the court didn’t gain evidence that these sheets were a summons. Also not understood is the contents of these two sheets of paper.”
Judge Pavlo Vovk, the head of the Kyiv District Administrative Court, didn’t show up for his detention hearing on Jan. 12, anti-corruption court spokeswoman Olesia Chemerys told the pravda.com.ua news site. The hearing was postponed until Feb. 3.
Zenon Zawada: Apparently, an important criminal case, involving an influential figure and significant evidence, is under threat of being undermined owing to procedural violations by investigators and/or lawyers. So even after the arduous and expensive work of getting anti-corruption institutions in place, Ukrainian authorities are still falling short of meeting their professional requirements. The inability to prosecute Pavlo Vovk, with the significant evidence apparent, will harm Ukraine’s image in terms of combating corruption and being a safe place to do business.