Infamous head of court asks witness in criminal case to change opinion
Head of the Court of Appeal of Cherkasy region Volodymyr Babenko asked aide to judge Serhiy Bondarenko, who is a key witness in the criminal case over interference in the work of the judge, to say that the leadership of the court played no role in her resignation.
The Human Rights Information Centre correspondent said this, having talked with aide to the judge Alina Khomenko.
“I phoned deputy chief of staff of the Court Ludmyla Boyko and asked if I could come to court as the Head of the Court wanted to talk with me. When I arrived, Volodymyr Babenko said numerous complaints about him had been filed and asked, ‘Could you write a statement or to provide any information that you left the court not under our pressure and that we had not had any negative impact on your dismissal?’ I said that I could not write such a statement, because it was not true and I left the court exactly because pressure on me,” the former aide to judge Serhiy Bondarenko said.
She added that the Head of the Court offered her the position of aide in the Court in future, “Volodymyr Babenko said that if there was a vacant position in future, I would be employed. I said I did not mind working with Bondarenko. He is still working without an aide. I said that I had liked to work with him. He asked, ‘To write complaints?’ I answered, ‘No, not to write complaints. I had to work.’ He said nothing. The conversation was over.”
As a reminder, some judges of the Court of Appeal told at the briefing that judge Serhiy Bondarenko did not have an aide now as he was allegedly insane.
“As of now, more than forty aides to judge work in our team. None of these employees is willing to work with this judge. This is primarily due to the personal qualities of a judge who does not respect his colleagues, insult the employees … I think his aide resigned because she could not work with him,” chief of staff Olena Striletska said.
“The mentioned judge, taking advantage of his status as a judge, constantly provokes conflicts, insults the court employees, insult women, judges, does not speak and does not greet almost half of employees of the Court of Appeal and judges of local courts, talks to himself in the corridor, he intended to take off his pants in the presence of people. Over 25 complaints about judge Serhiy Bondarenko have been recently filed to the Court. He has provided the Head of the Court, the Acting Head of the Court, the Secretary of the Chamber for Civil Cases, the meetings of judges with no explanations. I can back up my words with evidence. Since I have known Bondarenko, he is always ‘whining’ that nobody likes him,” Volodymyr Babenko read out his statement at the briefing, which was subsequently removed from the Judicial Power website.
He also added that he would raise the issue of mandatory periodic mental status examination of the judges.
Alina Khomenko told about the illegal, in her opinion, reprimand, delivered to her because she had not appeared at the solemn meeting of the Court employees to congratulate Volodymyr Babenko on occasion of New Year.
“It was December 31. The meeting was not obligatory, it was solemn. Bondarenko had much work. He received five cases. He said to me, ‘Alina, print the draft resolutions as we have nine days-off ahead.’ And the working day that day was up to 12:00. I knew about congratulations to the Head of the Court, because the announcement of the solemn meeting hung in the corridor. However, I preferred work,” Alina Khomenko noted.
After she had not congratulated Volodymyr Babenko, she was told to provide explanation of the reason. “I wrote that I was absent at the solemn meeting as was fulfilling assignments of judge Bondarenko and describe what they were. They took my explanation and did not make any comments. After the holidays I was summoned and told that internal investigation had been opened against me. I asked if I could get acquainted with the decision to conduct the official investigation. I was told, ‘You first write explanation where you were then again.’ I re-write the same explanation. They told me to write again, because it had been not a solemn meeting, but a working session. I said, ‘How could it be? Everyone knew it had been a solemn meeting, not a working session.’ Well, what working session could be held on December 31? I refused to write such an explanation, because it was not true. They said they would draw up a report on refusal of explanation,” the former aide to judge said.
At the hearing at the Oleksandrivka District Court of Kirovohrad region, judge Serhiy Bondarenko stated that the leadership of the Court had blocked work of Alina Khomenko.
“She just could not perform her duties. She was showed her workplace, her table. Okay, let it be. She could sit at that table. So give her a computer. She can’t work without a computer. There is important ‘D-3’ program, which helps to perform many operations: to draw up procedural decisions and subpoenas, receive messages and so on. She was not provided with a computer. And when she brought her laptop, they did not install the program for her. That is, they created such conditions, when I formally had an aide, but I had not aide virtually, because she could not fulfill her duties stipulated by the legislation, and the regulation on aide to judge,” the judge said at the court hearing.
Giving a commentary to the Human Rights Information Centre correspondent, Alina Khomenko said that she liked working with this judge, “It was very comfortable to work with him. I fulfilled his orders. He says he has no complaints about me. So, do I.”
She said that he respected the judge for having accepted her as a young specialist, who had no experience, without taking bribes.
“What I like most about Serhiy Bondarenko, and what I respect him for, is the fact that he did not see me as a young professional with no work experience, and accepted me as his aide without any conditions. My friends do not believe me that I found such a job without a penny,” the girl said.
Alina Khomenko resigned on February 17 this year because she did not want to get other reprimands. She admits she regrets resignation because she still cannot find job.
When asked if a judge can work without an aide, Alina Khomenko said she did not envy such a judge, “Well, an aide, in accordance with the regulation on the aide to judge, prepares all the case files, does filing, prepares draft judgments, various messages. If there is no aide, all of this work should be done by judge. It’s not taking into account that judge still delivers judgments.”
Recall, judge Serhiy Bondarenko said that Head of the Court Volodymyr Babenko asked him to deliver unfair judgments in a number of cases involving the judge. When Bondarenko had refused, he became subjected to systematic pressure.
The memoranda and statements of the judge were not registered. He was forced to break the law for the trial participants to complain about the judge to the High Qualification Commission of Judges. The judge’s car was set on fire, and the unknown people followed him near the apartment.
In addition, while Head of the Court Volodymyr Babenko was performing his duties, the premises of the Court of Appeal were alienated for construction of an apartment house, actually resulting in losses to taxpayers.
The Automaidan lawyer Roman Maselko filed the complaint with the High Qualification Commission of Judges about the Head of the Court. In his statement, Maselko said that behavior of the Head of the Court is a signal to all the other judges who dare reveal pressure on them.
“Now all the judges understand that in this case they will be presented as insane, mentally ill, scandalmongers, and their statements about pressure will have no effect. All this testifies to the unwillingness of the court to be reformed and undermines already low credibility of our judiciary,” Roman Maselko is convinced. He called on all the not indifferent people, who believe that behavior of the Head of the Court undermines the authority and credibility of the court, to complain to the High Qualification Commission of Judges.
April 7, the judges of the Court of Appeal of Cherkasy region re-elected Volodymyr Babenko as Head of the Court again. To do that, they needed to hold three meetings.