Vitsebsk woman faces six years in jail for hitting police van

Yulia Kashaverava in court. Photo: spring96.org

On February 19, a Vitsebsk court finished hearings in the criminal case against Vitsebsk citizen Yulia Kashaverava, accused under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code (“persistent hooliganism”). She could get six years in jail, the human rights center “Viasna” reports.

Yulia Kashaverava is accused of throwing several blows at a riot police minivan. She also allegedly ripped off the mask and cap off of riot police commander Alyaksei Alkhimovich.

The girl pleaded partially guilty. She said that she wanted to provide medical assistance to a man who fell on the ground while escaping from the riot police. She wasn’t able to do it – “she became too emotional and hit the vehicle”. Last summer Yulia, lost her mother and took her death hard. She didn’t deny that after she wasn’t allowed to help the victim, she couldn’t help herself and struck three blows on the back door of the police minibus. But she assured that she did not strike at the right side doors and did not tear the mask and cap from the officer of the Interior Ministry.

Kashaverava’s defender drew the court’s attention to the contradictory testimony of Alyaksei Alkhimovich, the commander of the riot police unit, from whom the girl allegedly ripped off the mask and cap. In particular, he testified that he did not see the moment when they were torn off. The lawyer insisted that the contradictory testimony of the policeman could not be considered credible and be used as a basis for the prosecution.

The lawyer recalled that initially when Kashaverava was not accused of ripping off the mask, cap and bringing damage to the side doors of the minibus. Her actions were qualified under Part 1 Article 339 of the Criminal Code (“Hooliganism”). Yulia Kashaverava repeatedly asserted that she had picked up the cap from the ground and handed it to the other girl. This moment was recorded on video.

The riot minibus that Yulia Kashaverava hit. Photo: screenshot from a video of the Interior Ministry

Witnesses questioned at the trial testified that the damage to the side doors could have been caused by the impact of a citizen who was detained at the time. None of those interviewed testified that the damage could have been done by Kashaverava.

As for hitting the minibus, Kashaverava confessed to doingn it even before she was charged. This can be considered as an admission of guilt.

The prosecutor Labatski insisted that the act of Kashaverava should be considered as deliberate, since it had violated the public order and was a clear disrespect for the society. It was also allegedly accompanied with the damage of other people’s property. The prosecutor has asked to punish her with six years in a general regime colony.

“On October 4 I saw a man lying face down in the crowd. The first thing that came to my mind was to find out what happened, whether he lost consciousness, and to help. At that moment I remembered my mother, whose life the whole family was fighting for,” Yulia Kashaverava explained in her final statement.

The girl tried several times to approach the man, and then the police used gas. Then there was no one else on the ground – the unknown man disappeared.

“I felt bad for myself, because I failed to help. Yes, I admit my guilt: I hit the car three times. I committed a misdemeanor, but don’t judge me harshly. Don’t deprive me of freedom!” the defendant asked.

The verdict will be announced on February 22.

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