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1 Oct, 2007 01:33

Young Mum denies pushing daughter down stairwell

A 22-year-old mother is rejecting claims she tried to kill her three-year-old daughter by shoving her down a stairwell at their home in Veliky Novgorod, a city north of Moscow. Antonina Martynova has been put in a mental hospital and is facing charges of

In February this year, three-year-old Alisa fell two floors down a stairwell and was badly injured. The prosecution say her mother, Antonina Martynova, pushed her, a claim she denies.

Today, 22-year-old Antonina Martynova is in a Psychiatric Institute in Moscow, while three-year-old Alisa lives 500 kilometres away with her grandmother.

Five months ago Antonina was arrested under charges of attempted murder, but she claims what happened on February 26 was an accident.

The toddler fell two floors down the stairwell from the third floor to the bottom. She lost three of her teeth, fractured her jaw and was left with several bruises.

An 11-year-old boy is the only witness. He told police he saw an older girl push a younger one down but Antonina claims otherwise. She says the door of the flat was left unlocked when her mother went to work. After cleaning her teeth, Antonina returned to the room to find her daughter missing. She ran to the staircase but didn’t have time to stop Alisa squeezing herself between the bars and falling.

After three days in hospital, they went to stay with Antonina’s mother, where Alisa has been ever since.

“My granddaughter is my only hope and support now. In the last seven months I haven’t slept. I put my granddaughter to bed at night and then I start pacing back and forth in the kitchen pronouncing speeches in my daughter’s defence,” Ninel Stepanova, the grandmother, said.

Nearly two months after the incident, investigators filed a request to detain Antonina because they said she posed a threat to the safety of her child.

Antonina was later arrested and taken to a detention centre where she was held for 18 days. During that time she contacted with her daughter by sending letters and poems, which her mother says was a way of keeping strong.

Her husband Kirill has also supported her. He’s worked tirelessly to help his wife, posting a site on the internet to bring attention to the case.

“We’ve got nothing to hide, we’re not afraid of anything in this sense, so on the same day Antonina was arrested we tried to give this case as much publicity as possible,” said Kirill Martynov.

And they succeeded. Kirill’s blog triggered a wave of debate in the Russian media, with people all over the world sending comments.

“Why did they deprive that little girl of her mother’s love and human warmth? I am told that Martynova attempted to murder her daughter. But, this, as far as I know, hasn’t been proved. The worst thing is that in such cases an offence is usually stripped of its real context,” said Oleg Zykov of Protection of Children's Rights.

But the investigating committee in Veliky Novgorod deny this and say everything has been done in the best interests of the child.

This includes demanding Antonina undergo a psychiatric examination in Moscow, despite already passing one in her home town.

Antonina is expected to be out of hospital in mid-October and then the investigating committee will have to decide if her case will go to court.

If charged and found guilty she faces life in prison. But her family say they’ll do all they can to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“I am going to fight for as long as I live. I am confident that justice will be done and that the truth will win,” stressed Ninel Stepanova.