Prosecutor initiates criminal investigation over beating of Kherson human rights defender
The Suvorovsky District Prosecutor in Kherson has initiated a criminal investigation over the inflicting of mild bodily injuries on 15 September to Dementiy Bily, member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Head of the Kherson Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters and Editor of the newspaper “Vilny Vybir” [Free Choice”].
As reported, the incident occurred on 14 September during a report being given by Kherson Mayor Volodymyr Saldo. Dementiy Bily, who was himself only allowed into the event after the Head of the Kherson Regional Administration intervened, objected when he realized that other members of the public and deputies of the City Council in opposition to Saldo were not being admitted. After he grabbed the microphone from the floor and called on the Mayor to allow them in since the occasion was for the Mayor to report to the city’s voters, he was pushed out of the hall and beaten. It would seem that three men held Bily’s arms behind his back, while a fourth hit him in the face. Having broken free, he tried to defend himself and his camera, which was hanging from his arm, grazed the man who’d been beating him on the forehead.
The police did nothing until Dementiy’s assailant was hit on the forehead when they stepped in and took the “victim” away in an ambulance. This person, Viktor Shevchuk, describes himself as a businessman.
The case initiated by the Prosecutor is under Article 125 § 1 of the Criminal Code (deliberately inflicting mild bodily injuries).
At the same time, the businessman Viktor Shevchuk, also hurt in the incident, has stated that he will seek to get Bily prosecuted. He says that he has written an application to the Prosecutor to have a criminal case initiated against Dementiy Bily, that his injuries are serious and that it took them two and a half hours to give him stitches. He denies that he hit Dementiy.
“Is this the way a civilized person behaves? Running into the hall, shouting. And we who were sitting them, are we cattle or what? The journalist was pushed out into the corridor where he began to insult me and hit me with his camera. I didn’t hit him because he’s a journalist”.
Mayor of Kherson, Volodymyr Saldo says that he is concerned over the incident., and says that he will do all in his power so that such incidents do not reoccur. “It is a shame that political passions become so heated that people show aggression to one another, involving them in provocation”.
He asserts that they tried to create comfortable conditions for “representatives of the public, those whom I report to”. He alleges that the situation always gets out of control when political intrigue becomes involve. He also says that next time they will look for another location to enable more people to hear the report.
In fact, according to journalist Ihor Trubayev and many of Demenity’s colleagues from Kherson, journalists only found out about the event the day before. Invitations were issued only to staff of the municipal services and representatives of the City Executive Committee.
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