The problem with having a spotless reputation is that it only takes one spot to spoil it.
For the new Ukrainian police, launched last summer and championed as virtually the only uncorrupt and independent body in the country, that spot could be a single small road accident.
Christopher Glover, a Canadian lawyer who has been working in Ukraine since 2009, found out on Aug. 4 that a police Prius patrol vehicle had hit his wife’s parked Audi car late at night.
He was sure “we would be compensated for the damage, so we decided to let justice take its course.”
Four months later, the accident has not yet been officially recognized by the courts, and the only compensation the Glovers have received has been an email from the deputy chief of police asking that they accept the police’s apologies.
“The Prius caused considerable damage to her car, completely caving-in two side passenger doors and skidding along the front wheel cover and bumper, and breaking the side view mirror,” Glover told the Kyiv Post. He said they found a note from the police tucked under the front windshield wiper, it said that an accident took place and a protocol had been filed.
Audi car, parked on the sidewalk in Kyiv was hit and damaged by the police Prius early morning on Aug.4.(Courtesy)
“My wife contacted the police’s insurance company SK Ukraina, and they informed her that in order to make a claim we would have to provide an expert appraisal and wait for a decision of an administrative court finding fault with the officer in question,” Glover said. “The assessor worked with the insurance company and assessed the damages. Now all we had to do was to wait for the formality of a court decision.”
That formality never happened though.
At the first hearing on Sept. 9, the judge returned the case to the police after finding that the documentation they had prepared did not include elements of the offence – such as the nature of the damage done.
The case was reheard on Nov. 12 by Judge Oksana Khardina, who proceeded to close it. The reason was that the protocol compiled by the police lacked the full address of the place of the accident and did not indicate the damage caused.
But documents that Glover provided to the Kyiv Post show that all the mentioned information had indeed been included in the file, according to Roman Storonskyi, senior lawyer with Ante law firm.
Glover said he was sure the court’s decision was not a mistake.
“It appears that the Kyiv Police are referring their accidents to reliable judges for closure without compensation, as the Kyiv Police entrusted the insurance of their prized fleet of Prius Hybrids to a bankrupt insurance company!” Glover said.
According to the Interior Ministry’s press service, the company’s license was effective on June 23, when the deal was signed. Since then, however, SK Ukraina has been liquidated, and its insurance obligations will be performed by the Motor Transport Insurance Bureau of Ukraine until June 2016, the ministry says.
However, the State Commission for Regulation of Financial Services Markets of Ukraine said in a report on July 10 that SK Ukraina’s license was declared invalid on June 4 – a full 19 days before police signed the contract with it.
The commission also said it had launched an investigation into the issue.
Mykola Siryi, a lawyer best known as part of a defense team representing ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko during her politically motivated criminal trial under the regime of ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych, declined to comment on this case, saying he was not familiar with its details.
However, he said that even with the automatized system that is supposed to select a judge at random for each case, there are ways to rig the process.
“Some judges can go on sick leave or take vacations, therefore there are fewer choices left for the computer,” he told the Kyiv Post.
Glover’s wife filed an appeal on Dec. 4.
“This is all exhausting and depressing. The police should have admitted guilt and offered to pay for the damage – instead they are playing this shell game with the courts, saying it is up to the courts to find responsibility,” Glover told the Kyiv Post.
Evhen Zhukov, head of the patrol police department, in his response to the Kyiv Post request, said that “the courts do justice independently” and are “free from any illegal influence.”