Ukraine's PGO chief on Handziuk murder: Prosecutors didn't want to probe case
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Riaboshapka has said there is little progress in an investigation into Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk's murder since a group of prosecutors did not want to probe it.
Answering a question whether there was sabotage of the case by Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) workers, Riaboshapka told the Ukrainian media outlet LB.ua in an interview that there were certain problems within a group of prosecutors.
"I will not directly answer this question. I will only say there was a reshuffle in the group of prosecutors. There is a huge problem in this case... They did not want to investigate it," he said.
Riaboshapka added he could not speak publicly about the causes behind the situation.
Asked whether law enforcement officials were possibly involved in the case, the prosecutor general said that "the environment that existed at the time of the crime affected its results during the investigation."
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.
Six suspects were detained, one of whom, Mykola Novikov, was later released from custody as charges against him had been dropped. On May 7, 2019, the Prosecutor General's Office sent an indictment against five defendants in the case of the murder: Mykyta Hrabchuk, Volodymyr Vasyanovych, Vyacheslav Vishnevsky, Serhiy Torbin, and Viktor Horbunov. On June 6, the court announced their sentences.
Torbin, the organizer of the murder, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison. Hrabchuk, the actual perpetrator of the crime, was sentenced to six years in prison. Accused of aiding, Vasyanovych and Horbunov were sentenced to four and three years in prison, respectively; accomplice Vishnevsky's sentence is four years' imprisonment. Oleksiy Levin, who has a criminal record, as well as Chairman of Kherson Regional Council Vladyslav Manger and Ihor Pavlovsky, who was an assistant to MP from the Petro Poroshenko's Bloc Mykola Palamarchuk, are also figures in the Handziuk murder case.
Moreover, public activists believe that former Chairman of Kherson Regional State Administration Andriy Gordeev and former Deputy Chairman of Kherson Regional State Administration Yevhen Ryshchuk were involved in the crime.
On October 3, Ukraine's PGO replaced a group of prosecutors in the Handziuk murder case.