The head of a regional parliament in Ukraine has been accused by the country’s Prosecutor-General of organising the murder of anti-corruption campaigner Kateryna Gandziuk.
Vladyslav Manher, head of the Kherson regional council, is accused of “organising the murder of Kateryna Gandziuk”, Attorney-General Yuriy Lutsenko wrote on Facebook today.
“Investigative activities and searches are under way” he wrote on Facebook.
Lutsenko’s spokeswoman Larysa Sargan added that Manher was accused of “having intentionally and unlawfully caused the death of another person … with particular cruelty and with the prior agreement of a group of people”.
Manger was a member of Batkivshchyna, the party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is challenging President Petro Poroshenko in the March 31 presidential elections.
He was expelled from the party last week.
According to a document posted by Lutsenko, Manher felt “personal enmity” toward Gandziuk because of her efforts to reveal “illegal deforestation” in the region.
Gandziuk, 33, worked as a counselor for the mayor of the city of Kherson, in the south of the country, where she had established herself as a prominent anti-corruption campaigner focusing especially on abuses in the country’s law enforcement agencies.
She was leaving home early on the morning of July 31 when a man threw a liter of acid on her and then fled. She was immediately hospitalised in a serious condition, with injuries to 30 percent of the body, including her upper torso, arms and face.
She succumbed to her injuries in November, after months of treatment and over ten operations.
Her death sparked outrage in Ukraine where a wave of attacks against human rights defenders have gone unpunished in recent years.
Five people were arrested in August amid an outcry at the perceived lacklustre efforts of the police to investigate her killing.
Three of the suspects were put under house arrest. In November, the authorities also arrested Igor Pavlovsky, a former politician’s aide in connection with Gandziuk’s death.