Peaceful protest in support of imprisoned Nigerian student stopped


On 27 December peaceful protesters in Kyiv were prevented by the police from holding a demonstration outside the Prosecutor General’s Office in support of Olaola Femi, the Nigerian student in custody for over a year following a racist attack in which he tried to defend himself.

The protesters were confronted by a large number of police officers and informed that their action had been banned under a general ban issued by the Kyiv District Administrative Court on 17 September which apparently banned wholesale all protests from then to 31 December 2012. 

Protests were not impeded in Luhansk and Simferopol.

As reported here, the charges against Olaola Femi could carry a sentence ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment.  He is accused of attempted murder of a group of Luhansk residents. The prosecution is claiming that he attacked three young men and a young woman with a broken bottle in his hand and tried to kill them. His lawyers (and a number of civic organizations) are adamant that he was defending himself against a racist attack.

On 5 November 2011 Olaola Femi  and the young man he was with – Oniola Sudadi -  were set upon by five young people who shouted racist insults and pulled them to the ground, beating them.  Oriola lost consciousness, but Olaola managed to get up and began defending himself with a broken bottle.  In defending himself he lashed out with the bottle, hitting his assailants.  Three young men – V. Haman, D. Lemenchuk and A. Loboda received cuts to the arms, neck and head, while Iryna Pashkova who also took part in the incident was hit on the face and head.  Olaola Sunkami Femi was arrested 12 hours later and has been in detention ever since.

Human rights workers have pointed to a number of infringements during the pre-trial investigation and the trial itself. For half a year the court could not find an interpreter for the accused, nor was one provided during Olaola’s medical examination following the incident which prevented the doctors from helping him. 

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