Scythian gold case: Amsterdam Court of Appeal to rule on disqualification of judge.

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On Wednesday, October 28, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal will announce the ruling on the disqualification of a judge in the case of the Scythian gold museum collection.

As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, a court hearing won’t be held due to the coronavirus pandemic. The court will announce its decision in writing, without public hearings, on October 28 after 13:00 local time.

"If a judge is not disqualified, we are waiting for a final decision in the appellate proceedings in two months or more. However, in any case, the losing party will definitely apply to the Supreme Court and, therefore, it will take two more years to deliver a judgment on the return of the exhibits," Dutch lawyer Maarten Sanders, who represents the interests of Ukraine, said in an exclusive comment to Ukrinform.

On 2 September 2020, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal began a hearing on the disqualification of a judge in the case of the Scythian gold museum collection. During the hearing, one of the three judges felt ill and the hearing was adjourned. After the break, the presiding judge noted that everything that happened on September 2 before the incident was taken into account.

Ukraine requests to disqualify a judge as additional facts, which could indicate the judge's bias and link with Russia, were revealed.

Earlier, 1 November 2019, a court in The Hague rejected the motion of the Ukrainian side to disqualify a judge of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal who was considering the Scythian gold case. The ruling said that the court did not see any circumstances that would indicate the judge's bias.

The proceedings were, in fact, adjourned pending the ruling on disqualification.

Later, Ukraine filed a second motion to disqualify the judge.

The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine revealed the circumstances that could indicate the bias of the presiding judge. In particular, according to the Ministry of Justice, the presiding judge of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for several years had represented the interests of the Russian company Promneftstroy in the case against OJSC Yukos Oil Company, i.e. actually defended the interests of the Russian Federation in the case in favor of Promneftstroy. The judge represented Promneftstroy in close cooperation with lawyers representing Crimean museums in the Scythian gold case.

As reported, the collection of Scythian gold had been delivered to the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam as part of the exhibition entitled “Crimea – the Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” prior to the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

On 14 December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the exhibits of the Crimean museums had to be returned to Ukraine. The judgment was delivered pursuant to the UNESCO convention, according to which the art treasures should be returned to a sovereign state, which provided them for a temporary exhibition.

On 28 March 2017, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal received an appeal against the ruling from the representatives of Crimean museums.

On 11 March 2019, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal started to consider an appeal in the case of the return of the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine.

In July 2019, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed the delivery of a final judgment in the Scythian gold case.

Currently, the Scythian gold collection is kept in the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam.

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