The court verdict that got the political activist one year on probation comes in connection to the 2015 abduction of Odesa district council representative Serhiy Sherbych.

In  February Odesa Prymorsky District court indicted Serhiy Sternenko and Ruslan Demchyk on charges of robbery,  Unlawful handling of weapons, ammunition or explosives, and  Illegal confinement or abduction of a person (art.187, 263,146 under Ukraine’s Criminal Code).

Both defendants were awarded 7 years and 3 months in prison and faced confiscation of a half  of their property.

The court proceedings on their appeal ended on May 21.

Odesa Appellate court found him not guilty on charges of robbery but upheld the earlier verdict on charges of abduction and handling of weapons.

The conviction got Sternenko a suspended sentence and one-year probation.

The court concluded that a starter pistol that investigation found at Sternenko’ apartment is not a firearm.

In fact, it is conviction for one bullet [found], remarked Sternenko with sarcasm.

If I had 15 bullets, I would have been awarded 15 years [term], added he.

Sternenko who has been under house arrest, said that he would appeal on the ruling.

 

Arrest and prosecution of Serhiy Sternenko prompted a public outcry in Ukraine.  Many argued it was politically motivated and was lacking evidence.

Protests took place in Kyiv and other cities as part of public support campaign for the jailed public activist. On May 31, protesters gathered at the presidential residence of Volodymyr Zelensky to call for Serhiy Sternenko release.