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Ukrainian court found former Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko guilty of embezzlement and abuse of office. On February 27 Kyiv’s Pecherskyy district court announced the decision to sentence Lutsenko to four years in prison with confiscation of property and a ban to hold public office.
The court ruling incriminated Lutsenko failing to observe lawful procedures in hiring and paying a close acquaintance while serving as interior minister (2007-2009). The ruling said that Lutsenko gave illegal perks to his driver Leonid Pristupliuk at the expense of the state: Lutsenko illegally provided Pristupliuk with an apartment and accounted his civilian labor record as police service record, securing him pension.
Also, the former interior minister is believed to have approved the overspending during the Police Day celebrations in 2008-2009 while the governmental decree on budgetary savings was effective. The criminal investigation concerning Lutsenko and three other former officials of the ministry revealed that their unlawful actions caused losses to the state budget exceeding UAH 970 thousand (around USD 110 thousand).
The state prosecution asked the court to sentence Lutsenko to 4.5 years in prison with property confiscation; however, the court sentenced Lutsenko to a four-year imprisonment taking into account mitigating circumstances. He was arrested in late 2010. Yuriy Lutsenko dismissed all the charges, claiming the court procedures were unjust and politically motivated. His advocates announced the decision to argue the court ruling in the appellant court and then file the application to the European Court of Human Rights.
The court’s ruling in Lutsenko’s case served as a message to each state official – anyone can be held liable for the abuse of power, stated First Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Support of Law Enforcement Volodymyr Oliynyk. He added that equality of every citizen before the law was the key to the existence of a lawful state.
He did, however, highlight that the ruling of the district court could still be changed by the court of appeals: “The verdict in the case of the former Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko, has not entered into legal force yet, and therefore it is too early to speak of the irrefutable guilt of the convicted.”