Markiv case: in second hearing, Milan court calls for complete & exact translation of audiotapes

Vitaliy Markiv during second appellate hearing in Milan, Italy, October 1, 2020. Photo: Nataliya Kudryk. Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL) 

International, War in the Donbas

The second hearing of Court of Appeals on the case of Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv took place in Milan, Italy, on October 1. Vitaliy has been in prison for over three years on charges of complicity in the killing of Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter and human rights activist Andrei Mironov near then-occupied Sloviansk.

The hearing was mostly technical, and more time was spent in the deliberation room than in the courtroom. It was decided to grant the prosecutor’s request, namely to review the translation of a recording of Vitaliy Markiv’s conversation with a cellmate on July 1, 2017

Prosecutor Nunzia Chiaravolo requested that the first translation of the audiotape, where Markov allegedly said: “We killed (took down) an Italian reporter”, be added as admissible evidence. For the prosecution, these words constitute a confession. But, there is a second version of the translation, made by the court translator at the request of the defence team, and this phrase is missing.

After listening to the 52-minute recording of the conversation, the judges ordered a new investigation and a complete audio translation, that is not just one phrase, as requested by the prosecutor, but the whole conversation to understand the context, as demanded by Markiv’s defence team on September 29. The recording is to be translated next week by a certified translator appointed by the Milan Court of Appeal. The defence will also appoint a consultant translator who will take part in the translation process.

Defence lawyer Raffaele Della Valle says the result of the second hearing is more or less a win-win.

“It’s 1:1. But, it’s extremely important for the whole conversation to be properly translated and analyzed. It’s essential to understand the general context, to hear Markiv’s exact words and the questions that he answered.”

Judge Giovanna Ichino announced that the next hearings would take place on October 15 and 23. The court did not discuss the new evidence presented by the defence, namely investigations and tests carried out by the Ukrainian National Police and the Ukrainian-Italian film crew in their documentary The Wrong Place, which means that this issue will be raised at the next hearing on October 15. The conclusions regarding the investigation of the abovementioned translation will also be heard.

The judge also informed that the court had received information about alleged threats to the Ukrainian translator who had been charged with translating the testimonies of Ukrainian witnesses at the previous trial in Pavia. On February 8, 2019, after Ukrainian MPs Andriy Antonyshchak and Bohdan Matkivsky had given their testimonies, the translator refused to continue her work in court. She stated that some strangers had called her and demanded that she stop working as a translator during the trial. Judge Ichino explained that the data had been transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office for verification and that criminal proceedings might be opened against the responsible party.

The Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov and Ukrainian Ombudsperson Liudmyla Denisova attended the second hearing in Milan. They expressed their belief that the Italian court would ensure a fair trial and that the new evidence based on investigations by the Ukrainian National Police and the Ukrainian-Italian film crew would be taken into account.

More to follow…

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