Law enforcement officers from Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region in central Ukraine have caused a stir after LGBTQ+ rights organization “Our World” appealed to them to investigate a possible assault against a transgender person in the city. Instead of investigating the attack as an assault or hate crime, Zhytomyr police filed the incident as a “robbery”, sparking outcries from human rights organizations.
The spokeswoman of the Zhytomyr regional police, Alla Vashchenko stated that the reason the crime was filed as a robbery and not assault was due to “procedural” restrictions.
“About assault, there needs to be a corresponding conclusion about what, in fact, happened. Right now, the victim has refused to speak to investigators, and has refused to provide a statement about the assault,” claimed the press secretary. “The preliminary qualification [for the case], which has been entered in the unified database is Chapter 2 Article 186 ‘Robbery’. It specifically provides for the infliction of light bodily harm. At the moment we lack an official court-ordered medical expert’s conclusions about the level of inflicted harm since the events in question had only occurred a few days ago.”
She added that the preliminary qualification is subject to change if new facts arise during the process of the investigation.
But human rights defenders from “Our World” claimed that the police have “simply ignored” the possible motive of homophobia in the case, which could elevate it to a hate crime.
“We also call on the management of the Zhytomyr regional police to take this case under their personal oversight as a crime committed under the motive of hate,” reads a statement released by the human rights organization.
Advocates say that the victim was lured into a trap with the promise of a romantic rendezvous. He was then handcuffed and beaten for “half the night”, with his clothes being cut to shreds by a knife, and other injuries. Police were notified when the victim was taken to his house by the assailants in order to, in the words of rights defenders, squeeze the victim’s parents for money. However, the assailants fled when the victim’s parents called the police instead.
“Our World” says that they’re currently looking for a lawyer for the victim “in order to ensure that this crime doesn’t go unpunished and was adequately qualified.”