On the occasion of the meeting between Presidents Zelensky and Biden, human rights and religious organizations from around the world sent an appeal to the US President with a request to raise before his Ukrainian counterpart the issue of reviewing the case of Ukrainian pastor Yaroslav Misyak, who spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.
Yaroslav Mysyak is a youth pastor of the Church of evangelical Christians from Transcarpathia, who was sentenced to death by firing squad in 1999 and is currently serving a life sentence. Of the 45 years he has lived, 22 are in prison on charges of murdering his grandparents and uncles, while the real perpetrators were not punished.
The human rights organization Amnesty International in 1998 reported that the police used torture against Pastor Mysyak to extract a “confession”, which he later denied in court. Human rights activists also pointed out that the police were complicit in the falsification of the case of Pastor Mysyak.
There are several aspects that indicate Yaroslav Mysyak’s innocence:
– He had no motive to commit this crime;
– the nature of the wounds on the victims’ bodies indicates the work of a professional killer who affected vital organs;
– in the case file, apart from the extracted confessions (under the threat of reprisals against his wife and two-year-old daughter), there is no evidence of Pastor Mysyak’s guilt;
– the verdict is based on assumptions and unreliable evidence, the defendant’s alibi was not checked at all and the court did not take into account;
– there are also new conclusions that indicate falsification of the primary conclusion of the forensic medical examination.
Due to the imperfection of Ukrainian legislation, those sentenced to life sentences in Ukraine have almost no prospects for a fair review of their cases. Since 2015, the Transcarpathian region courts have been reviewing the verdict of Yaroslav Mysyak on newly discovered circumstances, but they violated all reasonable and acceptable terms of judicial consideration of the case, significantly delaying this process.
At the same time, representatives of the prosecutor’s office ignore the version of involvement in the commission of the crime of citizen G. and other persons who, according to the testimony of one of the witnesses at the time of the crime, were near the scene in a drunken state and with cold weapons, which hypothetically could have been an instrument of the crime.
The Institute for religious freedom and other signatories of the appeal to the US President hope that communicating this information to presidents Biden and Zelensky will have an impact, and Yaroslav Misyak will be able to be released and return to his wife, daughter and mother, who have been waiting for his release for many years.
Full text of the request in the case of Yaroslav Mysyak with a list of signatories.
On July 21, a public discussion was held in Kyiv regarding “Life sentences: Ukraine must return freedom to unjustly convicted people.” The participants of the event, including religious figures of different faiths, noted the problem of the lack of any mechanisms or procedures for reviewing criminal cases in which an unfair/erroneous/arbitrary/illegal sentence has been passed in Ukraine since 2010. The website Struggle for Life § Arbitrarily Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Ukraine, developed by the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, presents the stories of such arbitrarily convicted people.