On April 9 presiding judge Gennadiy Stasenko announced a verdict of 12 years imprisonment. Hukasyan must also pay 65,000 hryvnias (1,650 dollars) to cover the cost of the forensic examinations.
On April 9 presiding judge Gennadiy Stasenko announced a verdict of 12 years imprisonment. Hukasyan must also pay 65,000 hryvnias (1,650 dollars) to cover the cost of the forensic examinations. © Irina Domashchenko

Russian POW Sentenced for Murder and Looting

The corporal admitted guilt, declined to appeal and requested he be exchanged.

Tuesday, 16 April, 2024

A Russian prisoner of war has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for murder and looting committed in the Kyiv region in March 2022. 

On April 9, the Borodyansky district court of the Kyiv region found he 28-year-old corporal Radik Hukasyan guilty of murder and looting, in violation of the laws and the customs of war under Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 and 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code.   

Investigators found that at the beginning of March 2022, Hukasyan, together with soldiers from his parachute regiment, shot at a red civilian car about 15 kilometres from Borodyanka, between the villages of Zdvizhivka and Babintsi. The car was set on fire and the driver - identified as Dmytro B, a 32-year-old resident of the Chernihiv region – died. His body was then buried in the forest along the road where Russians had set up positions. 

The court also found that Hukasyan and some of his comrades broke into a house in the village of Lubyanka on March 20, 2022 and stole various items. The accused specifically took a Sony PlayStation gaming console, worth about 2,000 hryvnias (50 US dollars). 

The serviceman was captured in the Kherson region in August 2022 and put on trial in November 2023.  He plead guilty and testified in court in a closed session, which he had requested for fear of reprisal against his family in Russia. One witness, a resident of Kyiv region, recognised the accused from a photo. 

A house in Borodyanka. © I. Domashchenko

On-site Investigation

The evidence examined by the court included the video of the on-site investigation conducted in September 2022 with Hukasyan himself. The video was played in court and the corporal, in handcuffs, showed the position from where he had fired. He recounted the event, who was involved in it and the fact that he saw the victim lying face down on the ground. 

“He was all in black [clothes],” Hukasyan said, adding that there was a chain around the man's neck. 

During the on-site investigation, the corporal showed the approximate place where the Russian soldiers buried the body. The investigation team identified the embankment, scanned it with a metal detector and, in the presence of witnesses, carefully dug up the ground. The operation took place at nighttime and investigators used lanterns to illuminate the area. 

“We see a black jacket,” an investigator saidin the video, indicating the discovery of the remains of the victim. 

A silver chain was found around the corpse's neck, but after six months the body was unrecognisable. A DNA examination established a relationship between the man and his mother with a probability of 99.999 per cent. The investigators also found casings from Hukasyan's machine gun in his trench. 

“This was the first car that ever drove here,” the defendant said on the video. 

“Did you see who was behind the wheel?” an investigator asked him. 

“No, the glass was tinted,” Hukasyan answered. 

In another video, the Russian corporal showed where he entered the house and took the game console from. 

“We were not the first here. Everything had already been looted,” he stated, adding that he and his comrades were looking for warm clothes. In the footage the corporal was in handcuffs and accompanied by investigators, a translator and a lawyer. He was seen climbing to a children's room on the third floor, where he squatted to show where he took the game console, which he then sent to his family in Russia.  

Burnt down Borodyansky court building. © I. Domashchenko

Court Debate

During the hearing held on March 12, 2024, prosecutor Serhiy Revelyuk requested 15 years in prison for the corporal’s complicity in the murder and looting.  

“The accused himself has confessed; he admitted his guilt, gave a corresponding statement, showed the place where the shooting took place. His testimony coincides with the conclusions of the conducted examinations,” the prosecutor said, adding that Hukasyan was sane and did not suffer from mental illness. 

In a video link from the detention centre, the defendant accused that he was sorry for what he had done and asked to be exchanged. 

“I have nothing to say, everything has been said. The only thing I will ask when the sentence will be issued is to take into account that I sincerely repent of what I have done, I did not want to do it. I will also ask, if there is such a possibility, to transfer me to the coordination headquarters for prisoners of war for further exchange for a serviceman of the Ukrainian army,” Hukasyan said. 

Oleksandr Chumachenko, the defence attorney assigned by the Centre for Free Legal Aid, indicated that Hukasyan's statement triggered the actual investigation and stressed that the 28-year-old actively assisted the pre-trial investigation body and provided personal data of the military personnel who were with him. 

“The only source of evidence in the case is Hukasyan's testimony, which he gave voluntarily,” the lawyer said, asking the court to consider the mitigating circumstances, show leniency and issue “a sentence below the lowest limit”. 

On April 9, the court gave Hukasyan the opportunity to speak before the verdict. 

“I already said it, your honour. I repent of what I have done. Asking the victim for forgiveness makes no sense, because it will not bring the brother back, unfortunately.”  

He then repeated his request to be exchanged.  

The corporal did not want to talk to journalists. While awaiting the verdict, he got up from his seat, walked around the room in the pre-trial detention centre, moved his chair away from the video camera to avoiding being filmed. 

The court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for his participation in the shooting and killing of a civilian and eight years for stealing. The court decided to combine the punishment for a set of criminal offences and presiding judge Gennadiy Stasenko announced a verdict of 12 years imprisonment in total. Hukasyan must also pay 65,000 hryvnias (1,650 dollars) to cover the cost of the forensic examinations. 

The sentence will enter into force after 30 days, when the appeal period expires. The defence lawyer conferred with his client after the decision was announced and later told reporters that Hukasyan will not appeal as he was "satisfied with the verdict”. 

He will remain at the Kyiv pre-trial detention centre where he has been since being captured and will later be transferred to a colony to serve his sentence and eventually exchanged, should such a request be filed. 

Prosecutor Revelyuk stated that the investigation into Hukasyan’s accomplices in the murder continues. In August 2023, the corporal’s deputy company commander, senior lieutenant Nikolay Simov, was issued a suspicion in absentia for ordering to shoot at the car. 

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