The public’s trust in the judicial system was the topic of a press conference which was comprised of prominent lawyers – a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights Shota Gorgadze, Violetta Volkova and Dmitry Agranovsky.
Shota Gorgadze noted, that lawyers along with human rights defenders have been opponents of the investigation for many years. And this is certainly normal. The opposition of the defense and the prosecution should serve for a fair trial. A judge is an independent arbitrator who, after hearing the defense and the prosecution, decides whether the verdict is acquittal or guilty. That is, a man in a mantle must personify not only objectivity, impartiality, but primarily justice. But, according to Gorgadze, when a judge turns into a prosecutor together with a prosecutor and an investigator, the judicial machine does not work to restore justice, but to bring a person to a guilty verdict by hook or by crook. Such practice can lead the society to the extremely negative consequences. The lawyer recalled the situations when the judicial machine had done everything so that an innocent person got at least a suspended sentence, and these situations were not uncommon. Gorgadze recalled the story of journalist Ivan Golunov accused of drugs trading. The criminal case against him Golunov was terminated "due to the lack of evidence of his participation in the commission of the crime." But nobody was punished for what Golunov had to endure. And the dismissal of several law enforcement officers is not a very serious penalty, in the case when the fate of a person hangs in the balance. According to the lawyer, if the judicial system continues to work for the prosecution instead of working for justice, it can lead to the most negative consequences for all the citizens. Moreover, while in large cities it is possible to draw attention to some high-profile cases, then it is very difficult to do so in the small ones. As an example, Shota Gorgadze cited the case of Elena Fokanova. This case is in proceedings before the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Penza at the moment. As explained by Dmitry Agranovsky, Elena Fokanova is an employee of a pharmaceutical company that has been engaged in the supply of licensed drugs. These medicines have been purchased by the city hospital. According to the investigation, the parties have reached an agreement on the highest possible price of contracts for the purchase of medicines. Elena Fokanova is accused of giving a bribe and of receiving a bribe as the second separate case. According to Violetta Volkova, usually the investigation of such cases is carried out jointly, since one comes from the other. “But Themis chose her own path and cases were divided. Moreover, the city has developed certain judicial practice in the conduct of such cases. Everyone understands this. There is a case, there is an indictment, the investigation is completed, everything is going according to a predetermined program”, Volkova said. As stated by Volkova, each criminal case has its own so-called pitfalls. “There is evidence that was not included and it may prove the complete innocence of our client. We will try to provide all the evidence in this case”, Volkova said. But, according to her words, the lawyers have not been presented the protocol of the court session so far. In turn, Dmitry Agranovsky believes that the Fokanova case is quite promising in terms of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. Lawyers believe that the situation in Penza could be a test for all Russian justice. “I do not raise the question of whether Fokanova is guilty or not. I only claim that each comma in the case file should be studied thoroughly, for the presumption of innocence to be not declarative, but a really working norm. Unfortunately, nowadays the defense is forced to prove the innocence of a person, although under the current legislation it is the prosecution that must prove the guilt of the person, ”Gorgadze said. At the same time, the defenders believe that there is reason to expect an acquittal. “We are not just waiting. We will seek an acquittal agreement. There is only one thing that we struggle for – to follow the law. If the court follows the law, then there is no need to wait for another verdict, but an acquittal one, ”Gorgadze is sure. The next court hearing is scheduled for December 18th.