Ukraine: "Untouchable" Judge Could Escape Arrest

Published: 11 August 2016

By Devin Windelspecht

Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators say they caught a Kyiv judge in possession of a suspected six-figure bribe, but cannot arrest him due to a quirk in the country’s laws.

The inability for authorities to act could result in him escaping Ukraine’s justice system, an official said.

Dnipro district court judge Mykola Chaus was found earlier this week with a glass jar containing US$ 150,000 in cash that was believed to be bribe money, the head of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Nazar Kholodnytskyi, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

But investigators were unable to arrest Chaus, Kholodnytskyi said, due to a provision in the country’s constitution granting immunity to members of the judiciary. 

The only exception is if lawmakers vote to strip the judge of protection – an act that is impossible right now due to the legislature being on vacation.

"Society should make an urgent request asking to punish corrupt officials," Kholodnytskyi wrote, labeling judges like Chaus "untouchable" due to the inability of anti-corruption officials to act without legislative approval.

With lawmakers on holiday, there is a risk that Chaus may evade the law, Tatiana Kozachenko, the head of the Justice Ministry department responsible for clearing out officials linked to overthrown former leader Viktor Yanukovych, was quoted as saying by news website 112 Ukraine.

If found guilty, Chaus could face up to 12 years in prison under Ukraine’s criminal code. Local media reported that the judge has taken a “vacation” until September 1.