Court begins hearing appeal of UOC Metropolitan sentenced to five years in prison

Vinnitsa, Vinnitsa Province, Ukraine, January 24, 2024

Met. Jonathan and his supporters. Photo: Met. Jonathan and his supporters. Photo:     

On Monday, January 22, a Ukrainian court began hearing the appeal of His Eminence Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin, the sickly Orthodox hierarch who was sentenced to five years in prison in August for allegedly justifying the war against Ukraine and inciting religious enmity.

The state began targeting him last October, searching his home and diocesan administration. A month later, after having been officially notified of state suspicion against him, he had to undergo heart surgery.

UN Human Rights representatives have met with Met. Jonathan since the sentence was passed against him, and hierarchs from throughout the Church, including His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem have condemned the persecution of the UOC bishop.

On Monday, the Vinnitsa Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s request to recuse the judges in the case, but did decide to conduct a study of all the evidence presented against Met. Jonathan, the Diocese of Tulchin reports.

The next hearing is scheduled for February 19.

Met. Jonathan’s lawyer Igor Chudovsky commented that all the charges against his client are unfounded and politicized:

The case against Metropolitan Jonathan is a case against the Orthodox faith, against freedom of speech, against justice. It is based on falsified evidence, testimonies under duress, and strained interpretations. Its goal is to discredit and destroy one of the active hierarchs of the UOC, who didn’t submit to political interests and didn’t betray his faith. Its goal is to scare and intimidate all those who do not agree with state policy in Church matters.

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