Photo from UNIAN

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko claims the SBU Security Service of Ukraine has concealed a testimony of a witness which could increase the number of those suspected of complicity in the murder of Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk.

Handziuk was subjected to a brutal acid attack and did not survive grave injuries sustained.

The probe into the Handziuk murder was set to be finished no later than last Friday with further forwarding the materials to be studied by chairman of the Kherson regional council Vladyslav Manger, Lutsenko told on Thursday, August 15.

However, a new witness has emerged, whose testimony is likely to expand the circle of masterminds behind the murder, he said. When asked when the testimony will be provided, the prosecutor general said: "They promised to do this within 24 hours but we have been waiting for a week already."

Lutsenko also noted "bad news" in the case.

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"Just yesterday, it became clear that the SBU had already received testimonies we are expecting from a witness, but they were never attached to the case file. The fact of such questioning was concealed. I've received a report today. The witness in a testimony, citing another person, says that a decision to 'punish Kateryna' was made at a meeting where other people, besides Manger, were present," Lutsenko added.

The SBU has refuted Lutsenko's statement, saying no material evidence has been concealed from prosecutors that would expand the circle of suspects in the case.

As UNIAN reported earlier, on August 5, Viktor Handziuk, the victim's father, stated that the prosecutor's office continues to "ruin" the case. According to him, the prosecutor's office did not inform him that a court in Odesa would be hearing the case vs Pavlovsky.

The Prosecutor General's Office entered into a plea deal with Ihor Pavlovsky, a suspect in the organization of Handziuk's murder, and forwarded an indictment to the court. He is no longer considered a likely "organizer" of the murder.

At the same time, the prosecutor's office approved a corresponding agreement with Pavlovsky without the knowledge of Handziuk's father, Viktor Handziuk.

UNIAN memo. Kherson activist, advisor to the Mayor of Kherson and acting manager of affairs at Kherson City Council's executive committee Kateryna Handziuk, 33, on July 31, 2018, survived an act of acid throwing. She suffered burns to more than 35% of her body and underwent 11 operations in Kyiv. Handziuk died on November 4, 2018. The immediate cause of her death was a severed blood clot resulting from the acid attack. Police originally qualified the attack as an attempted murder committed with extreme cruelty, then its status was changed to completed murder.

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Six suspects were detained, one of whom, Mykola Novikov, was later released from custody as charges against him were dropped. The alleged participant in the assassination, Serhiy Torbin, and Mykyta Hrabchuk, another suspect in the case, were remanded in custody. Three other suspects – Vyacheslav Vishnevsky, Volodymyr Vasyanovych, and Viktor Horbunov – were placed under house arrest.

On November 5, the media reported that Torbin had allegedly received money for the attack on Handziuk from Ihor Pavlovsky, an assistant to Member of Parliament from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc parliamentary faction Mykola Palamarchuk. Palamarchuk in turn dismissed any accusations of his possible involvement in the assassination attempt on the activist. He also said he had dismissed Pavlovsky. On November 12, a court ruled to detain Pavlovsky. According to the SBU Security Service, he is suspected of complicity in the Handziuk murder.

Chief Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko announced on December 3 that the investigators had identified all the individuals who had ordered the assassination. He also named Oleksiy Levin (his real second name is Moskalenko) who later was placed on the international wanted list on December 10, 2018, on suspicion of involvement in the Handziuk assassination.

Read alsoHandziuk murder case: Prosecutor general says new suspects could be charged

Head of Kherson Regional Council Vladyslav Manger is charged with organizing the assassination. Social activists believe that former Chairman of Kherson Regional State Administration Andriy Gordeev and his deputy, Yevhen Ryshchuk, are involved in the Handziuk murder.

On April 12, the then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accepted Gordeev's resignation.