June 15, 2020 14:06 GMT – By RFE/RL
The head of the regional council in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson who is suspected of ordering a deadly attack on local anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk failed to show at a hearing in Kyiv that would have decided on his possible pretrial arrest.
Representatives of Vladyslav Manher told the Pechera District Court in Kyiv on June 15 that Manher was unable to travel from Kherson to the Ukrainian capital because he is being treated in an emergency unit at a local hospital.
It’s the second time Manher has failed to show up at the court in Kyiv. He has denied any involvement in the attack.
Last week, he missed a hearing, which his lawyers said was because Manher’s daughter was going to have surgery.
The court subsequently ruled that Manher could be brought to the June 15 hearing by force. However, when investigators arrived in Kherson on June 14 to deliver the court ruling, they found that Manher himself was in hospital.
Lawyers of Handzyuk’s family accused Manher of “hiding” from justice.
Kateryna Handzyuk, a 33-year-old civic activist and adviser to the mayor of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, died in November 2018 — three months after she was severely injured in an acid attack.
Prosecutors arrested Manher in February last year and charged him with ordering the attack. Manher was later released on bail.
In June 2019, five men were sentenced to prison terms of between 3 and 6 1/2 years for organizing and executing the attack, after they made plea deals with investigators.
Human rights activists have accused Ukrainian law enforcement agencies of failing to thoroughly investigate the growing number of attacks on activists, and even of collusion with the perpetrators in some cases.