HRW urges Kiev to ‘explore possibility’ lawyer’s murder related to his defense of Russian citizen

Human Rights Watch has called on Ukraine to “thoroughly and impartially” investigate the murder of lawyer Yury Grabovsky, saying that a theory that he might have been killed in connection with his defense of a Russian citizen should be “especially” examined.

“The killing of Yuri Grabovski [sic], the lawyer who had been representing a Russian citizen, Aleksander Aleksandrov, who was captured following a battle during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, is a horrible crime,” HRW's written statement to RT reads. “Ukrainian authorities should thoroughly and impartially investigate [the killing].”

“All possible theories of the case” should be examined, HRW emphasized, “especially – given the circumstances of Grabovski's killing – the controversial nature of the case he was defending,” and “the fact” that he and the other lawyer who was working alongside him have received threats and harassment.

“Ukrainian authorities should therefore also explore the possibility that the killing may have been in some way connected to the case he was defending,” HRW said, adding that it will continue to monitor the investigation’s development.

Earlier, Amnesty International has also called on Ukrainian authorities to “promptly, effectively and impartially” investigate the case, saying that “the hideous murder” of Grabovsky “is a chilling reminder of the dangers faced by lawyers and activists perceived to challenge the authorities.”

The human rights NGO called the defense lawyer's murder an “ultimate abuse of human rights and justice.”

At the same time, the high-profile murder of the lawyer who was defending an alleged Russian serviceman Aleksandr Aleksandrov, charged with involvement in terrorism activity in Ukraine, has received little reaction from western authorities.

US State Department spokesman said that Washington is “still trying to get more information about it,” while UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's spokeswoman commented by saying the case “is an internal criminal matter for the Ukrainian authorities.” German Bundestag press service declined to comment.

Grabovsky’s body was discovered last week, several weeks after his sudden disappearance in Kiev after he reportedly came into the possession of new documents relating to his high-profile case. Grabovsky’s grave was found after investigators followed a lead from one of his suspected abductors, who also said they used an ankle bracelet rigged with explosives to keep their victim at bay.

Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios was somewhat vague in describing how exactly Grabovsky died, saying that he “was killed violently and finished off with a firearm,” apparently implying that he was brutally beaten before being killed.

It is also believed that the lawyer had been kept drugged by his abductors, since in the video released by prosecution this week Grabovsky can be seen “admitting his mistake” of defending a Russian citizen and promising to drop the case in an apparently “altered state,” body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass told RT. The behavior specialist noted that lawyer’s speech was very slow and he lacked “facial and vocal animation.”

“He is very monotone, his face is devoid of expression, his eyelids seem heavy as if they were closing at time, his speech is a lot slower,” she said, adding that despite clear differences in behaviour it was impossible to say based on one video recording if Grabovsky had indeed been drugged. She however said that the course of “dialogue” between the interviewer and the abducted lawyer was “very strange”, raising additional concerns as to whether Grabovsky has been “coerced.”