Friday, August 31, 2012

03 September 2012: court session and protests in Luhansk and Kyiv

Self-defence is no offense: Action in support of the Nigerian student

On 3 September (Monday), at 1 PM, a protest planned in front of General Prosecutor's Office in Kyiv. Protesters will support Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi - a Nigerian student whose rights are breached by police and prosecutor's office of Luhansk city: for defending himself, the guy faces life imprisonment. Similar protest simultaneously will take place in Luhansk.
You and me - do we know much about Nigeria? In the meantime, the citizens of Nigeria will, from now on, know more about Ukraine. They will have enough knowledge not even to think about visiting our country themselves - and not to let their loved ones (if the latter would like, say, to study here) to come here. And they will have a good reason, since foreign (Nigerian included) newspapers have already informed their readers about one of Nigerian students’ story: he might spend the rest of his life in Ukrainian jail just for defending himself and his friend from attackers.

The attack took place in the city of Luhansk at night on 5th of November, 2011. Two Nigerian students were assaulted by local drunk youth, who pushed them to the ground and kicked them, shouting racist insults. While his friend was kicked down unconscious, Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi defended their lives, blindly hitting the attackers with a neck of a broken bottle, inflicting few skin cuts. As a result of police investigation, which passed with some gross procedural violations, Olaolu Femi was charged under articles 115 part 2 and 296 part 4 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine - attempted murder with hooligan motives. According to the investigators, he consciously, «out of obvious disrespect for society» carried out the attack with the use of prepared crime tool - a broken glass bottle. A student from Nigeria is incarcerated in Luhansk pre-trial jail for 10 months already. Prosecutors charge Femi with «completed» act of an attempted murder - despite the fact that the attackers-turned-”victims” received only light injuries. He faces possible life imprisonment.

Next open court session in the case of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi will take place on 3 September, at 14:30 at the Leninsky district court of Luhansk. At this session the panel of judges should start hearing on substance of the case. Those present in the court will have a chance to see the incident’s participants, find out the results of the pre-trial investigation, hear statements of both parties - “victims” and the defendant’s lawyers.

Civic rights activists from all over the country intend to come regularly to the prosecutor’s office in order to show their discontent regarding the actions of the Luhansk police and prosecutor’s office, who brutally breach the rights of Olaolu Femi. More and more compassionate individuals demand to release Femi from jail as soon as possible, to conduct another, transparent and comprehensive investigation of the incident, and to bring to justice officials responsible for violations during investigation. These demands will be voiced during the protest planned at the Luhansk regional prosecutor’s office (Kotsyubynskogo str., 3) at 12:30 on the day of the court session (contact phone number +380953495325 – Yaroslav). Similar protest will take place in Kyiv at 13:00 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Riznytska str., 13/15) (contact phone number: +380505313180 – Nina).

The story describing what Luhansk “law enforcement” officers have done to the Nigerian student, already went beyond the borders of the city - or even those of the country, taking more and more international attention. Ukrainian Ombudsman Valeriya Lutkovska and General Prosecutor of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka declared officially that they had taken the student’s case under their personal control. There is no doubt that this story is another disaster for the image of Ukraine. But we still do not give up hope that Ukrainian authorities will take all measures needed in order to correct their shameful mistake and restore the rights of the international student.

"Justice for Olaolu" Initiative

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