The Prosecutor General's Office has changed the charges against former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko in the criminal case related to the investigation of the poisoning of Ukraine's third president (2005-2010) Viktor Yuschenko.
State Prosecutor Dmytro Loban said at a meeting of Pechersky District Court in Kyiv that the PGO had qualified the charges against Lutsenko from the abuse of power or office (part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) to that of negligence (Part 1 of Article 367), an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent reported.
According to Loban, during the trial they established that Lutsenko had no intent to violate the rights of Valentyn Davydenko, the driver of former deputy head of the SBU Volodymyr Satsiuk, when signing an order to extend the investigation. The prosecutor’s office now believes that Lutsenko didn’t know that his deputy, Petro Koliada closed the proceedings, but as a minister, he had an obligation to check this, and by not doing so neglected his duties.
Thus, the prosecution qualified the severity of the charge because Article 367 of the Criminal Code envisages a maximum penalty of imprisonment up to three years, while Article 364 of the Criminal Code provides for a tougher punishment.
Lutsenko was arrested on December 26, 2010. He has been held at Kyiv’s pre-trial detention center since then.
On February 27, 2012, Pechersky District Court in Kyiv found Lutsenko guilty of committing official crimes and sentenced him to four years in prison, with confiscation of his property. Kyiv Court of Appeals on May 16 upheld this verdict. The essence of the charges lies in the fact that Lutsenko, while serving as interior minister, allegedly facilitated the accrual of an illegal pension to his driver, Leonid Prystupliuk, the allocation of housing to him, as well as his inclusion in the operational services department.
Lutsenko is also charged with the extension of an investigative case concerning the driver of former SBU First Deputy Chief Volodymyr Satsiuk, as part of an investigation into the poisoning of then presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko.
On July 3, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling declaring that the arrest of Lutsenko was a violation of his human rights. Moreover, the court ordered the Ukrainian authorities to pay EUR 15,000 to Lutsenko as compensation for moral damages.