Russian senior lieutenant Konstantin Ozaev, 30, was handed ten years of prison in absentia for the brutal treatment of a civilian man in Sumy region in March 2022.
Russian senior lieutenant Konstantin Ozaev, 30, was handed ten years of prison in absentia for the brutal treatment of a civilian man in Sumy region in March 2022. ©

Russian Commander Sentenced in Absentia for Ordering Execution

The accused ordered subordinates to kill a man in Sumy region; the victim’s life was saved by a phone call.

Tuesday, 11 June, 2024

On June 3, the Trostyanetsky district court of the Sumy Region sentenced a Russian senior lieutenant for ordering the summary execution of a civilian during the occupation of Boromlya, a village in the Sumy region, in March 2022.  

Konstantin Ozaev was handed ten years of prison in absentia for the brutal treatment of the civilian population in violation of the laws and customs of war as per Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code. 

Boromlya, about 30 kilometres from the border with Russia’s Belgorod region, lies on the key Sumy-Poltava highway and Kharkiv-Sumy highway pass. Russian troops captured it on February 24, 2022, the first day of the full-scale invasion, and retreated a month later on March 26. 

According to the investigation, Ozaev was among the troops who entered the village on the first day of the occupation. The 30-year-old, from the North Caucasian Republic of Kalmykia, is commander of the 5th battery of the Uragan multiple-launch rocket system of the Russian ground forces’ 147th self-propelled artillery regiment. In November 2022 he was awarded the Russian For Courage order for his participation in the war in Ukraine. 

On March 9, 2022, Ozaev and other unidentified Russian soldiers stopped a white Skoda Octavia at a checkpoint in Boromlya. The civilian driver, 40-year-old Serhii K, was transporting the body of a female acquaintance who had been killed when the car came under fire at another checkpoint. The Russian military got into the car and forced the driver to take them to the centre of the village where they got out. Ozaev ordered his subordinates to stand behind the victim. 

Serhii K told the court that Ozaev was probably the group’s commander as he was the one giving orders and was addressed as “senior lieutenant”. The civilian told the serviceman about the murdered woman in the car but the serviceman suggested Serhiy K bury the body himself in the nearest blast hole or on the side of the road. The victim refused. Ozaev checked whether the driver's last name was on the list of former participants in the Joint Forces Operation, the war in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014. After that, he ordered his subordinates to shoot the man first in the knees and then kill him. Serhii K begged for his life and to be let go, saying that his children were waiting for him at home. 

As Ozaev’s subordinates were ready to carry out the order, the commander received a message to urgently provide reinforcements somewhere else. The military ordered the driver to remove the body of the deceased from the car: once he did, they took his car and drove off.  

Ozaev was informed of the suspicion in absentia in November 2023. Ukrainian investigative journalists from tracked his phone number and called him . He was reportedly "not surprised to hear about the suspicion from the law enforcement officers, but he refused to talk to Ukrainian journalists”. 

This case was brought to court in January 2024. As Ozaev did not appear when summoned to court sessions, he was tried in absentia. 

The victim confirmed in court the events as told to investigators, stating that Ozaev was not wearing a balaclava and that he looked under the effect of alcohol or substances that day.  

Serhii K took the body of his deceased acquaintance out of the car, across the street from a shop. He then ran into the shop and hid there. His burnt-out car was found later in the outskirts of Boromlya . 

The court register reported that “since these events, [the victim] does not sleep at night, he is shaken”.  

The court also questioned the man's wife and son as witnesses, who confirmed what happened to Serhii K.  

“He used to be calm, but now his mental state has changed, he has become very irritable,” said the victim's wife, whose details were not made public and was indicated in the register as Person_8. 

The victim recognised the accused during the pre-trial investigation and confirmed it in court. He also confirmed that he recognised the accused in his profile photo in social networks and in files of the security service (SBU). 

The court recognised as sufficient the evidence to prove the accused’s guilt, rejecting the arguments of Ozaev's defence attorney that there was no clear proof and that no one had seen the accused except in the photo. 

The defence lawyer has 30 days to appeal and the term of serving the punishment will be counted from the moment of his detention.  

The prosecutor's office is investigating separately the case of the murder of the woman killed while in the car with Serhii K and perpetrators have been reportedly identified.

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