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23 Mar, 2009 06:29

Sentenced to prison term, but set free

A Ukrainian man convicted of drug possession several years ago – who never actually made it to the prison – has been arrested for the second time.

Four years ago, Yury Didenko was enjoying what he thought would be his last days of freedom while his court appeal was being heard. The court upheld the conviction, but the man never ended up between bars.

Following his lucky break, he got married, changed his name and could have lived happily ever after, but he didn’t change his habits.

Didenko ended up being arrested a second time. The police were quick to remember his old rap sheet and doubled his term. They say he should have turned himself in, but lawyer Aleksey Gorin disagrees: “Well, it’s not his duty to go to prison. It’s the duty of the state to ensure he gets into prison.”

The police insist he was on the wanted list and changed his name to avoid punishment – something his wife Ilona Kulman denies.

“He changed the name when we got married. Here’s his new ID issued by the very police station that was supposed to arrest him. We never left the town,” she says.

So who’s to blame for the blunder? It seems nobody, as prosecutor Vadim Miroshnichenko says:
“There’ve been some violations, but we can’t punish anyone. Those responsible have either been fired or retired long ago.”

This time the police want to make sure Yury does serve his sentence, but the legal question is – how long will he have to stay there for – five years or ten?

A new trial to end the unprecedented case is underway.