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Key evidence against Maidan killers in danger of being destroyed

08.10.2018
Halya Coynash

The Kyiv authorities have done nothing to enable vital investigative experiments to be carried out in order to establish exactly where the shots that killed Maidan activists were fired from and within a month it could be too late as major construction work is planned.  The families of Nebesna Sotnya, the victims of Maidan, are understandably frustrated, as is Serhiy Horbatyuk, who is in charge of the Special Investigations Department responsible for Maidan prosecutions. 

Horbatyuk warns that any chance of carrying out the investigative measures needed for the trial of five former Berkut officers charged with Maidan killings will be irrevocably lost once the construction work begins of the planned National Memorial Complex for Nebesna Sotnya Heroes Museum of the Revolution of Dignity. 

Horbatyuk’s Department, which is within the Prosecutor General’s Office, issued an order several months ago to prohibit changing the layout of Instytutska Street until the investigative experiments have been carried out. 

That order was revoked by Anzhela Stryzhevska, Deputy Prosecutor General, who claimed that it did not comply with the Criminal Procedure Code. The Maidan prosecutor then asked the court for a ban on changing the layout in the relevant area.  A judge at the Pechersk District Court in Kyiv initially stated that the request would be allowed, yet several weeks later rejected it.

The Advocacy Advice Panel, whose lawyers are representing victims’ families, have appealed to the Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko and Mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko over this absurd situation.

They point out in since July this year, a number of investigative experiments have been carried out on Nebesna Sotnya Heroes St (formally Instytutska) in order to firmly establish exactly where people were killed or injured, in order to determine the likely trajectory of the gunshot, and the sector from which it was fired.  The experiments were sought by the families of the victims, but are also needed because of the emergence of new videos, photos, witness testimony, etc.  In order to be able to carry out such experiments, they need to reinstate the situation as it was on 20 February 2014, when most of the activists were killed.

This involved temporarily dismantling the Memorial to the Slain Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya.  Given the importance of the investigative experiments for establishing all the facts and for bringing the killers to justice, the civic initiative Families of the Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya gave their official permission for the dismantling of the Memorial during the period required for the experiments.

The Memorial has still not been dismantled for reasons that neither the families and their lawyers, nor the Maidan prosecutors can understand.

The Advocacy Advice Panel stress that the major reconstruction of Instytutska St will make it impossible to carry out the investigative experiments and to receive vital evidence. “This places in jeopardy the criminal investigation, the court trial and just verdicts and sentences against those found guilty of gunning down protesters.”

They demand to know why the investigative work is being obstructed in this manner, and to ensure that it is carried out immediately, with any changes to the layout, etc. on Instytutska stopped until the work has been completed. 

This is the latest of countless developments over recent years where the Special Investigations Department, which enjoys the support of Nebesna Sotnya families and lawyers from the Advocacy Advice Panel, have been seriously obstructed in their work. 

As the fifth anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan), approaches, it is galling that even the few trials underway could be endangered by such baffling obstruction. 

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