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Property returned after triple arrest cancellation 

10.04.2020

Complainee: The Main Investigations Directorate of the National Police of Ukraine (MID NP) 
 
Complaint in brief: The Council received a complaint against law enforcers’ inaction from the capital city IT company. The company complained that MID NP officers did not return temporarily seized property to it for a long time. 
 
Particularly, at the end of 2018, in the framework of the pre-trial investigation, law enforcers searched the office rented by the complainant. During the search, inter alia, the HR documentation and computer equipment were seized. Law enforcers did not have a relevant permit to do so, hence the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO) subsequently filed a petition for the property's arrest. 
 
An investigative judge almost immediately arrested the company’s property, but two months later the company managed to cancel this arrest in court. However, the investigating judge re-arrested the same property again already in a week. After filing an appeal for the second time, in June 2019 the complainant again succeeded in overturning such a decision.
 
Despite that fact the complainant couldn’t return the property – the MID NP stated it did not receive the relevant appellate court ruling on arrest cancellation. Therefore, the company challenged inactivity of the MID NP to the investigating judge, who satisfied the complaint and obliged the MID NP's investigators to return the property, which was temporarily seized from the owner more than six months ago. 
 
Further on, the complainant submitted petitions to return the property, but only received refusals from the MID NP. The reason for that was non receipt of neither the appellate court’s ruling on the arrest cancellation, nor the investigating judge’s order to return the property. At the same time, responding to the complainant’s attorney’s letters of inquiry, the District Court confirmed the fact of sending copies of the rulings to the MID NP for their enforcement. 
 
Seeking support, at this stage the company turned to the Council with this issue.
 
Actions taken: After examining the case files, the Council asked the MID NP and the PGO in writing to find out whether law enforcing officers complied with the court order. The PGO replied briefly: there were no legal grounds to return the property seized from the complainant. At the same time, the MID NP reported no court rulings for execution were received. 
 
Noticeable that after the Council’s involvement in the fall of 2019, the complainant became aware that a few months ago his property had been arrested for the third time, although neither such investigating judge’s decision was reported about anywhere nor was it available from the Unified State Register of Judgments. Following the complainant’s appeal to the appellate court,  the arrest was canceled for the third time before the New Year holiday season. 
 
So in January 2020, the Council’s investigator brought up the company’s issue for the Expert Group discussion with participation of the Council’s and MID NP’s representatives. The Council’s experts emphasized that property that was not under arrest, could not be illegally kept by law enforcement agencies and must be immediately returned to the enterprise. As a result, the MID NP officers assured they would comply with the court ruling after the complainant applied to the investigator with the relevant application. 
 
Result achieved: In February 2020, the PGO reported on the return of property to the enterprise. However, the story did not end there: the complainant informed the Council that during February of 2020, the MID NP indeed returned all the money and some of the equipment seized. This property, however, did not belong to the complainant but to third parties against whom a search and other procedural actions were also conducted in December 2018. The complainant's equipment, as was reported to its lawyers, was in the expert institution at that time, which meant that the MID NP had to take additional actions to return it to its owner. 
 
The complainant reported on the successful return of its property in full only in March. Thus, thanks to mutual efforts of both the company’s lawyers and the Council’s team, after more than a year temporarily seized property and equipment were returned to the legitimate owner. 
 
The company thanked the Council’s team for their help: “Highly professional Business Ombudsman experts [...] managed to successfully provide support of the Company's relationship with the representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine and the National Police of Ukraine that resulted in a full return of the property illegally seized from the Company”.