On September 28, the European Parliament’s EPP Group held a roundtable to discuss the arrest and detention of Spanish citizen Vladimir Kokorev, who has been imprisoned in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands (Spain) since 2015 – without an indictment and therefore without a trial.
MEPs and reporters from Spain, Belgium, the UK and Israel, were briefed on the details of the case, which has received extensive media attention across Europe.
Lawyers representing Kokorev appealed to the European Union to intervene in what was described as “blatant contravention” of European standards.
Speakers presented the following facts: Kokorev, 66, is a Spanish citizen of Russian and Jewish origin. He and his wife Yulia, 68, and their son Igor, have been detained at Las Palmas prison for over 25 months on “preventive detention”. They were detained in Panama in 2015, based on an international warrant issued by judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano of Las Palmas Court No 5, on suspicion of having laundered money on behalf of Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea.
According to Kokorev’s lawyers, the judge extended the family’s detention for another two years, despite the defence presenting evidence proving absolute transparency of Kokorev-owned companies, and alleging numerous irregularities of the investigation.
Several MEPs expressed their alarm at the arrest and imprisonment of an entire family for such an excessive period of time without a trial. In particular, taking into account that there are no ties to organised crime, or even as much as an investigation of the crime preceding to that of the alleged money laundering, no investigation into the suspected corruption in Equatorial Guinea where the funds were obtained, nor any investigations or indictment of any public officials of Equatorial Guinea who would have supposedly misplaced those funds.
Carmelo Nvovo Nca, the Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to Belgium and the EU, confirmed that his country does not have any claims against Kokorev, and that his company carried out government contracts. He expressed his hopes for an independent investigation closely supervised by European judicial organs.
Likewise, Judge De Vega Serrano’s decision to establish yet another two-year term for an investigation launched in 2004 – that’s 14 years ago – prompts reasonable suspicion about the judge’s motives.
At this point, it appears that Judge De Vega Serrano would be content with “investigating” the Kokorev family indefinitely, since this delays her need to justify her controversial methods and unreasonable precautionary measures used during this extremely contentious “investigation”.
“It is not for us to decide if Mr. Kokorev is guilty or innocent of the charges against him. But what should concern us all is the fact that he, his wife and son are being denied justice and due process of law,” stated MEP Fulvio Martusciello. “Two years in detention without specific charges with the prospect of a further two years for no good reason is an affront to all that we Europeans believe in.”
Meanwhile, the Spanish Court released Kokorev’s wife shortly after plans to hold the roundtable were announced in the media.
However, according to Kokorev’s attorneys, even if Kokorev and his family are finally released from jail, their situation will not be better than an indefinite house arrest. Kokorev’s wife is forbidden to leave Las Palmas, and there is still no horizon for an eventual hearing.
In an official statement on the results of the round table, MEP Fulvio Martusciello, stated:
“In the view of the numerous apparent violations of human rights and rules of due procedure that have taken place during the investigation of Mr. Kokorev and his family by the Criminal Court N5 of Las Palmas and its Judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano, violations that has been for most part ignored or condoned by the High Court of Las Palmas and the Spanish Judiciary Supervising Organs, we are deeply concerned both with the current and clearly inhumane treatment of Kokorev family under the jurisdiction of the courts of Las Palmas, as well as with the fact that fair trial of this family seems to be highly unlikely in the future.
It is our recommendation to Spanish Central Judiciary Supervising Organ (Consejo General de Poder Judicial), the High Courts of Madrid (Audiencia Nacional) and the General Prosecutor Office of Spain, to remove “The Kokorev Case” from the jurisdiction of Las Palmas and place it in the High Courts of Madrid (Audiencia Nacional), in order to guarantee the rights of the defendants, the right to a due procedure and a fair trial.
Furthermore, we encourage and give our full support to Kokorev family’s defence attorneys in order to bring any relevant actions in this matter against Spain before the European Court of Human Rights for violation of human rights suffered by their clients.”