Donbas war volunteer and musician AKA 'Riffmaster' Andrii Antonenko on trial / Photo from UNIAN, by Viktor Kovalchuk

Kyiv's Court of Appeals has left unchanged a previous court ruling on the arrest of former Donbas war volunteer and musician AKA 'Riffmaster' Andrii Antonenko, a suspect in the murder case of journalist Pavel Sheremet.

The court on October 6, 2020, considered the appeal filed by the defense against the decision of the jury of Kyiv's Shevchenkivsky district court to extend Antonenko's arrest, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

Read alsoSheremet case: Ankle monitor removed from suspect Kuzmenko

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Addressing the appeals court, the lawyers emphasized that Antonenko was not going to hide from the investigation and the court, or flee abroad. They insisted on changing the preventive measure to any other that does not provide for detention and will allow Antonenko to be with his family.

In addition, the defenders said that due to the constant need to attend court hearings and other circumstances related to his imprisonment, Antonenko's wife lost her job, so his family was virtually left without means of subsistence.

The prosecutor dismissed the appeal and insisted that Antonenko allegedly could go into hiding, flee and put pressure on witnesses.

Having heard the parties and persons who are ready to put up Antonenko's bail, the panel of judges decided to dismiss the appeals of the defense.

Those present in the courtroom met the court's new decision with shouts: "Shame!" and "Freedom to Riffmaster!"

Sheremet murder case: Details

  • The journalist was assassinated in a car blast in the center of Kyiv on the morning of July 20, 2016.
  • On December 12, 2019, police said they suspected five persons of complicity in the crime: former Donbas war volunteer and musician Andrii Antonenko, army volunteer and pediatric surgeon Yulia Kuzmenko (nom de guerre "Lysa," or "Fox"), nurse with a paratrooper unit Yana Duhar, and a family couple of army volunteers Inna Hryshchenko ("Puma"), and Vladyslav Hryshchenko ("Bucha"). Law enforcers claim that the goal of Sheremet's assassination was to destabilize the social and political situation in Ukraine. Antonenko, Kuzmenko and Duhar were notified of suspicion on December 12, 2019.
  • Ukrainian investigative journalists with the project said they had found the forensic analysis report used in the probe into the murder of Sheremet far from being unambiguous, while evidence presented by the police was not convincing. What is more, many Ukrainian activists consider the proof collected by the investigators to be insufficient.
  • On August 25, all three defendants demanded in court that their case be heard by the jury. Holub, the chair of the panel of judges, said that since they all were facing life imprisonment, the Criminal Code allows such cases to be heard by a jury, which consists of two professional judges and three members of the jury.
  • On September 28, the prosecutor in the Sheremet case read out the indictment to Antonenko, Kuzmenko and Duhar in Kyiv's Shevchenkivsky district court.
  • On the same day, the prosecutor read out the indictment in the case.