Twelve suspected of involvement in ordering Handzyuk's killing - Ukrainian prosecutor general
KYIV. Nov 6 (Interfax) - Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are looking into the possible involvement of twelve people in ordering the killing of activist Kateryna Handzyuk, an aide to the mayor of Kherson, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said.
"Twelve people are being checked for their possible involvement in the order," Lutsenko said in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday.
"We currently have suspicions concerning twelve people who may have ordered this crime. Handzyuk herself mentioned some of them during a Skype session and while being questioned by an investigator," he said.
One of the leads being pursued by the investigation was leaked to the media on Monday, he said.
"Because of yesterday's leak, the twelve people whose possible involvement in the crime we are looking into surely received some of the information they needed," Lutsenko said.
The criminal case concerning Handzyuk's killing "actually consists of two cases, one concerning those who carried out and organized the killing, whom the National Police identified very promptly, and the other concerning the search for those who ordered this serious crime, which is being handled by the Ukrainian Security Service," he said.
"This crime was planned and committed by the people who were first detained, and then the restrictive measure imposed on some of them was changed," Lutsenko said. "All of the suspects have participated in the ATO [Kyiv's operation in Donbas]. One of them is seriously injured," he said.
"Most of those detained, four of them, have confessed to their involvement in the crime and described everyone's roles in this crime. Considering this, the investigation justifiably sees Mr. [Serhiy] Torbin as the organizer of this crime and the other individuals whom he hired as those who carried it out," he said.
"At the present moment, [...] we in fact see the guilt of those who committed and organized the crime as proven. After the completion of the DNA tests regarding the acid on the body of one of the perpetrators and a technical test analyzing a computer and a mobile telephone containing information about preparing the acid precisely for Handzyuk, [...] this part of the case will be forwarded to courts," he said.
The completion of this part of the case will depend on the fulfillment of the tests, Lutsenko said. "This will be completed not later than by the end of this year, but we plan for it to happen a bit sooner," he said.
An unidentified person threw concentrated sulfuric acid at Handzyuk near her home in Kherson on July 31. She was taken to a local hospital with burns and transferred to a special medical institution in Kyiv soon afterward.
The attack was initially qualified as disorderly conduct, then law enforcement agencies requalified it as the infliction of serious bodily injuries, and later, after it was confirmed that concentrated sulfuric acid was used, the case was again requalified as an attempt to kill with special cruelty. An investigator later granted a lawyer's motion to additionally qualify the crime as having been ordered.
Five people suspected of attacking Handzyuk have been detained, including a man caught by video cameras buying sulfuric acid.
On August 22, National Police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo said four of the five people detained on suspicion of attacking Handzyuk confessed to committing the crime and provided testimony. The suspected organizer refused to cooperate with the investigation, Trakalo said.
Handzyuk died on November 4. Investigators then requalified the attack as a premeditated contract killing committed by a group of people for personal gain and with special cruelty.
Journalists Oksana Denysova and Tetyana Nikolayenko named a possible mediator between those who ordered and organized Handzyuk's killing on their Telegram channel in early November. They said Ihor Pavlovsky, an aide to parliamentarian Mykola Palamarchuk of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, delivered the money to Serhiy Torbin, who is suspected of organizing the crime.
According to the media, Pavlovsky is a former official aide to parliamentarian Yuriy Samoilenko of the Party of Regions and a former unofficial aide to Oleksiy Zhuravko of the same party.
Palamarchuk said on November 5 that he had no relation to the attack on Handzyuk. "Did I have any relations with Kateryna Handzyuk? No I didn't. Did we have any conflicts? No we didn't. Did I have a motive to wish her ill? Of course not. Do I condemn this crime? Of course! And I certainly don't have any relation to it," the Petro Poroshenko Bloc press service quoted Palamarchuk as saying.