Heartbreak and fury in Russian city: Angry crowd overruns police, tries to lynch suspected murderer of 9yo girl (VIDEOS)
The girl went missing on Wednesday. She left for school early in the morning but never showed up. Her parents became anxious soon after and sounded the alarm around at midday, prompting a massive search effort.
As Saratov police officers looked for a suspect and swept the area using sniffer dogs, hundreds of volunteers and concerned citizens teamed up to question locals and try to find any clues about the apparent crime. Leaflets bearing the child’s image were distributed and messages asking for help were sent out.
The search party had a line of shabby, semi-abandoned garages lying along the road leading to the girl’s school in their sights.
But hopes of finding the missing child alive faded by Thursday evening. Her body was finally found at a parking garage, just 70 meters away from where she lived. The child’s clothing and pink footwear was found in a garbage bin.
At about the same time, police reported the arrest of a 35-year-old man who reportedly confessed to killing the girl and hiding her body in a crawlway leading out of his garage. The suspect, it emerged, had been well known to police, given his six counts of robbery and theft, as well as sexual abuse and rape.
When officers – some of them heavily armed and equipped with protective gear – tried to bring the suspect into custody, hundreds of enraged locals thronged the area, easily outnumbering the police escort. The crowd blocked an SUV they thought was carrying the suspect.
The standoff escalated and people in the crowd started shouting, demanding the suspect be lynched on site. Despite assurances that the suspected murderer wasn’t in the car, many demanded that officers open the doors. “Hand him over to us and we will go away!” one man is heard yelling in a dramatic video.
Using protective shields and pepper spray, the police finally made way for the departing vehicle, but it didn’t help defuse tensions. On Friday morning, a throng of Saratov residents occupied streets adjacent to the local police headquarters and demanded that the suspect be handed over.
Responding to the outrage, local authorities told the public that the case will be given top priority. The Investigative Committee has dispatched a team of detectives and forensic experts to investigate.
The Investigative Committee also released a video in which the suspect apparently explains the motive for the murder. He claims girl walked past a garage that he had been squatting in for several months and asked him if it was his property; fearing that it could have belonged to her parents, he said he dragged the child inside and killed her.
Some politicians said the death penalty should be brought back in response to the murder.
“We need to bring back capital punishment,”wrote Evgeny Primakov, an MP from the ruling United Russia party. A similar call appeared on change.org website, where a petition demanding “death for murdering a child” is gaining pace, attracting over 23,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Critics, however, argued that death penalty failed to curb crime rate anywhere in the world. “A human has no right to kill another human even through the use of judicial procedures,” offered the head of Russia’s Human Rights Council. He added that there is always room for miscarriage of justice which could not be averted if a suspect is sentenced to death.
Russia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty back in 1997 when it joined the Council of Europe. The last death sentence was handed down a year earlier.
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