Mourners Bid Farewell To Slain Activist Lawyer In Ukraine

DEMYDIV, Ukraine -- Mourners paid their last respects to slain activist lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska, who was buried next to her sister after a killing that sparked public outrage and underscored concerns about the justice system in Ukraine.

Mourners weep on the coffin carrying Iryna Nozdrovska in her hometown of Demydiv on January 9.

People placed flowers in the yard outside Nozdrovska's family home in Demydiv, a village in the Kiev region, before she was laid to rest at a local cemetery on January 9.

Nozdrovska went missing on December 29, after she helped ensure that the man convicted of causing the death of her sister, Svitlana Sapatanyska, was not released from prison.

The 38-year-old lawyer's body was found in a river not far from Demydiv on January 1, and police later said she died of multiple stab wounds.

Nozdrovska had been the target of threats for her efforts in the case of Dmytro Rossoshanskyy, who was convicted of causing the death of Sapatanyska, when he hit her with his car while driving drunk in 2015.

On December 27, amid efforts by Nozdrovska to raise public awareness about the case, judges rejected an appeal by Rossoshanskyy -- the nephew of a district judge in the Kiev region -- to overturn his seven-year prison sentence.

Ukrainian lawmaker Mustafa Nayyem wrote on Facebook on January 1 that Rossoshanskyy's father had threatened Nozdrovska at the December 27 hearing, warning her that she would "end up badly."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on January 8 that police had arrested a suspect in Nozdrovska's killing.

He did not name the suspect, but Ukrainian media reports cited unidentified police sources as saying it was a close relative of Rossoshanskyy.

Activists say suspects who are relatives of officials often avoid prosecution or conviction or are released early -- a result of corruption that Western officials say harms the economy and hurts Ukraine's chances of throwing off Russian influence.

Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, after a military occupation, and Moscow backs separatists whose war against government forces has killed more than 11,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

Source: Radio Free Europe