Ukraine arrests suspect in acid attack case

Kateryna Gandzyuk suffered third-degree burns over most of her body and spent more than three months in hospital before she died

Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine on Monday arrested a man suspected of being involved in the deadly acid attack on anti-corruption campaigner Kateryna Gandzyuk.

Igor Pavlovsky — a former aide to a ruling party lawmaker — was arrested on Monday morning, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s attorney general said on Twitter. 

Gandzyuk’s death in early November sparked fresh condemnation of the government and drew renewed attention to dozens of assaults on other anti-corruption campaigners in Ukraine over the past few months. 

Police detained five people in August, three of whom were placed under house arrest.

But it remains unknown who ordered the attack.

Two Ukrainian journalists have alleged that Pavlovsky could have acted as an intermediary between the attack’s organisers and the person who ordered it.

Pavlovsky worked for lawmaker Mykola Palamarchuk of President Petro Poroshenko’s party, but Palamarchuk has denied any involvement and has fired Pavlovsky.

Speaking to a Ukrainian television channel last week, Pavlovsky confirmed that he had been questioned as a witness in the case but denied being involved in the attack. 

But on Monday, Ukraine’s security service said Pavlovsky had been arrested as a possible accomplice in the crime. 

Gandzyuk, who worked as an adviser to the mayor of the southern city of Kherson, was an outspoken critic of corruption in law enforcement agencies. On July 31, she had around a litre of acid poured on her by an unknown attacker.

The 33-year-old died in early November after months of treatment, including more than ten operations.

She was hospitalised with burns on more than 30 percent of her body, including her upper torso, arms, and face. 

Both the European Union and the US have called the attacks on activists unacceptable and urged authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

General Attorney Yuriy Lutsenko last week submitted a letter of resignation to Poroshenko over the affair. But Poroshenko on Friday refused to accept his resignation. 

The growing controversy poses a new embarrassment for the pro-Western leader who is expected to run for re-election next year.


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