Border shooting case: Defense reveals new details

Ilya Haldai

On April 28, a press conference dedicated to the tragic event was held in Odesa incident, which occurred in the first days of a full-scale war in the area of ​​the state border of Ukraine with the unrecognized Transnistrian Republic.

It should be recalled, that on the night of February 26-27, 2022, a shooting occurred near the closed border crossing point "Kuchurgan" of the Odesa region. As a result, citizens of Azerbaijan died - three of them died on the spot, one more died later in the hospital. The specialized military prosecutor's office blames this on a soldier of the Rozdilnya Territorial Defense Valery Pronka.

As the representative of the defense of the accused, a lawyer, told during the press conference Ilya Haldai, as part of the investigation, a significant volume of witness statements was collected, which allows us to clearly reconstruct the picture of the events of that night.

It turned out that the patrol, which consisted of several territorial defense crews and policemen, received an operational signal from the State Border Service through official channels that a large group of unknown people - possibly saboteurs - was near the state border. This information is confirmed by numerous witness statements and publications in Telegram channels.

"Border guards established that unknown persons are trying to cross the state border at the closed Kuchurgan checkpoint. It was not ruled out that this is a subversive group that needs to be detained. Two groups of the Security Service together with representatives of the police and border guards arrived at the scene of the incident, finding about thirty people there in several cars," said Ilya Haldai, emphasizing that Valery Pronko arrived at the scene not of his own free will, but on a direct order his leadership, who had information about a possible border breakthrough.

"The border guards ordered the unknown people to get out of the cars and present their documents for inspection, but the people did not obey the command and started to run away. After that, the border guards warned that they would use weapons and the shooting began. At the same time, according to the testimony of witnesses, the shooting was conducted from two sides," Ilya Haldai noted.

Ilya Haldai

In addition, Valery Pronko himself was actually the driver of one of the crews. He was far from the first to start shooting with his service weapon - as eyewitnesses confirm, he got out of the car already during the chaotic shooting started by other participants in the events. He fired preliminary shots into the air, and only then, seeing his wounded comrade, began shooting at the legs of the unknown. Unfortunately, later they died from blood loss," the lawyer said.

After the incident, the fighters provided medical aid to the victims, applied tourniquets, trying to stop the blood loss, called an ambulance, but it was not possible to save their lives. Valery Pronko himself did not hide, but actively cooperated with the investigation from the first day.

Separately, the defense attorney focused on the main problem of this trial:

"At first, the prosecutor's office and law enforcement agencies began to treat this incident as an ordinary premeditated murder. They did not want to find out why the group of 30 people were at the border during the curfew, why they started to flee; moreover, their identities were not even established, no one was interested in the presence of weapons and where these people later went, and the testimonies were not taken into account," Ilya Haldai emphasized.

It should be noted that representatives of the prosecution — the specialized military prosecutor's office — ignored the press conference, although they were invited. However, the agency's press service sent a comment explaining that it considers its presence inappropriate, as "the preliminary out-of-court discussion of case materials can be assessed as illegal pressure on the independent and objective consideration of the case in court."

At the same time, she gave her assessment of the events Oksana Alekseeva, representative of the Center for the Protection of the Rights of Servicemen:

"Unfortunately, this situation is not isolated. Our country has not faced war for many years, so the judicial system is not adapted to current realities, and the military suffers from this. Since 2014, servicemen have been contacting our center with similar cases, when, performing a combat mission and receiving certain orders from the commander, they then become hostages of our legislation."

Ilya Haldai

Separately, Oksana Alekseeva drew attention to the psychological state of the defenders of Ukraine during the most difficult days of the war.

"I did not see in the case materials that a comprehensive examination of the psychological state of this soldier was carried out, because it is necessary to take into account that this happened in the first days of full-scale military operations. Remember what happened then throughout the country and in our region in particular...

I will not give an assessment to prosecutors or investigators, but I will note the main thing: this incident happened while the serviceman was performing his official duties. Therefore, it is impossible to consider this tragedy as a deliberate murder. If this serviceman was at home, hid an unregistered weapon somewhere under a pillow, heard a suspicious noise in the yard, ran out and started shooting - that's one thing, but when a person was performing his military duty, came under an order to be on combat duty, and had every reason to consider him a criminal unknown people who are in the restricted area during the curfew is quite another."

In addition, she added that such criminal proceedings have a bad effect on the moral and psychological state of Ukrainian fighters, because now in similar cases of the use of weapons, they will know that after the war they can be held criminally responsible.

Summarizing, Ilya Haldai noted that, according to the defense, the offense committed should not be qualified as "intentional murder for hooligan motives", but as "Murder in excess of the measures necessary for the detention of a person who has committed a criminal offense" (Article 118 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

Such an offense is punishable by correctional labor for a term of up to two years or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, while now a serviceman faces life imprisonment.

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