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    Dismissal of the first jury | 9 Dec 2004

    On December, 9, 2004 Judge Natalya Olikhver, in spite of objections of attorneys, dismissed jury, examining the ecclesiastical matter of the employee of UKOS Aleksey Pichugin.

    Heretofore judge has postponed trial for five times. Actually trial was suspended on the first of November.

    Long rest occurred in the process after month of the beginning of waived hearing of Aleksey Pichugin. Hearing should be resumed after recovering of chairperson on the trial Judge Natalya Olikhver. However trial was postponed again and again. That time it happened because of absence of three out of twelve juries. It was the first case of failure to appear of jury to the process upon Pichugin matter. Probably, all of them turned out to be really ill. But possibility of other reasons juries could not appear in the courtroom is not excepted. But the farther trial was postponed under different claims, the more evident it became what the matter steadily comes to the substitute of jury. The scenario of the trial by itself pointed that jury not satisfying the prosecution would be dismissed soon. All the more this technology in the domestic courts was already approved. In the matter of scientist Sutyagin, whom Federal Security Service of Russia accused in spying, jury that did not want to return this scientist guilty eventually was dismissed on another jury where ex-employees of special services were included. Renewed board returned guilty verdict to Sutyagin.  

    To the end of November, 2004 it was clear that the process on the matter of Aleksey Pichugin comes on the smooth routine. Experts were sure that inquisition had no strong evidence of guilt of ex-chief of the security service department of UKOS, except confessions of serial murderer Korovnikov. Though they assumed that in contrast to the matter of physics Danilov, prosecution side would try not to allow passing of even intermediate but absolvent sentence in this process.  Thereto it was right demanded to substitute jury not after but before completion of the process.   Much causes for such procedure could be found. All the more the article of the new Code of Criminal Procedure supposes opportunity of jury dismissal by reason of tendentiousness of the board. Chairman Judge Natalya Olikhver has tried to implement this legislative norm on the process to the jury already at the end of October. That time Judge interrogated jury concerning do they read newspaper articles upon Pichugin matter. In case if jury answered affirmatively it formally could be interpreted that publications in press influence jury assessors and they should be substituted. But assessors assured Judge that they do not read newspapers, consequently they are not exposed to the influence of outside opinion.

    November holidays became cause for the first postpone of the process. On November, 10  the day when the regular hearings were appointed, Judge Natalya Olikhver announced about postponement of the trial in connection with illness of the accused. But it was inquired that information of Judge is not right: attorneys who came to remand prison found out their client to be quite well. In any case, regular meeting should be held on 17 of November. It was not held by reason of illness of Judge Natalya Olikhver herself. Till the 7 of December, where the process transferred, Chairman Natalya Olikhver might recover and the process resume. But it happened in a different way. Judge has recovered, but at several juries did not constitute to the courtroom.  Meanwhile law has station concerning if number of jury is not sufficient, the process is transferred or the board is subjected to dismissal. Thereby little remained till the substitution of assessors. For instance, it could happen in case if several juries do not come to the next meeting.  

    According to the opinion of observers, the matter of Pichugin almost collapsed by that time.  No victim on grave crime, incriminated to Pichugin, asserted by inquisition had proved version of the public prosecutors office. On the contrary  witnesses gave such evidence that certainly made jury doubt in complicacy of Pichugin in crimes accused to him. Thus, witness Victor Kolesov whose beating and robbery several years ago, according to the version of inquisition, was organized by Pichugin, asserted in the court that he was surprised with such statement of the question and did not see any relation between this event tragic for him and interests of employee of UKOS Pichugin. The similar situations emerged at accusation side with other witnesses.  Though one witness still gave evidence against Pichugin. But he was found to be bandit and serial murderer from Tambov Igor Korovnikov who was under the penitentiary service. During some period of time prosecution side could conceal social status and list of crimes of this last witness form the jury. As otherwise assessors could doubt in the truthfulness of his evidence. Beyond any questions  person charged with eight murders to an account, by the highest standards has nothing to lose. As mother of Aleksey Pichugin mentioned after termination of one of the meetings „such witness can say everything for extra ration“. It was clear that Korovnikov hoped on reducing of own sentence. And certainly he understood that lifelong sentence would not be changed to twenty years sentence for no special reason  strong reasons are necessary. The only chance to reduce own fate became help to he accusation side in the court upon the matter of employee of UKOS Aleksey Pichugin. Probably, plan with attraction of witness Korovnikov could give the result that consisted in necessary impact on jury. But in the course of the process it was found out that Korovnikov is not ordinary witness, but real murderer and rapist. Accusation side could not count to the support of jury on conviction. Consequently in order to apply Pichugin with guarantees under sutyaginsky and danilovsky term, it was necessary to change jury.

    On December, 9, 2004 Judge Natalya Olikhver who before has cancelled meeting six times because of illness of Pichugin, because of illness of attorneys, because of own illness, at last has held evidentiary hearing. Natalya Olikhver granted a petition of The Prosecutor Generals Office and prolonged custody period of Pichugin on three more months and then dismissed jury.

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  • The European Court of Human Rights. CASE OF PICHUGIN v. RUSSIA. Judgment
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  • Trial of vengeance

  • Journalist Valeriy Shiryaev on the first case of Aleksey Pichugin in his book «Trial of vengeance. The first victim of the YUKOS case»