Nigerian student faces possible life imprisonment in Ukraine after racist attack against him

On the 3rd of September 2012 next open court session in the case of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi, nigerian student, will take place in the ukrainian city of Luhansk. Criminal prosecution of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi appears to be biased and fabricated. Olaolu Femi might spend the rest of his life in Ukrainian jail for defending himself and his friend against attackers. Protests will take place in Kiev and Luhansk on Monday, the 3rd of September.

The attack took place in the city of Luhansk at night on 5th of November, 2011. Two Nigerian students were assaulted by local drunk youth, who pushed them to the ground and kicked them, shouting racist insults. While his friend was kicked down unconscious, Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi defended their lives, blindly hitting the attackers with a neck of a broken bottle, inflicting few skin cuts. As a result of police investigation, which passed with some gross procedural violations, Olaolu Femi was charged under articles 115 part 2 and 296 part 4 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – attempted murder with hooligan motives. According to the investigators, he consciously, «out of obvious disrespect for society» carried out the attack with the use of prepared crime tool – a broken glass bottle. A student from Nigeria is incarcerated in Luhansk pre-trial jail for 10 months already. Prosecutors charge Femi with «completed» act of an attempted murder – despite the fact that the attackers-turned-”victims” received only light injuries. He faces possible life imprisonment.

Next open court session in the case of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi will take place on 3 September, at 14:30 at the Leninsky district court of  Luhansk. At this session the panel of judges should start hearing on substance of the case. Those present in the court will have a chance to see the incident’s participants, find out the results of the pre-trial investigation, hear statements of both parties – “victims” and the defendant’s lawyers.

Civic rights activists from all over the country intend to come regularly to the prosecutor’s office in order to show their discontent regarding the actions of the Luhansk police and prosecutor’s office, who brutally breach the rights of Olaolu Femi. More and more compassionate individuals demand to release Femi from jail as soon as possible, to conduct another, transparent and comprehensive investigation of the incident, and to bring to justice officials responsible for violations during investigation. These demands will be voiced during the protest planned at the  Luhansk regional prosecutor’s office (Kotsyubynskogo str., 3) at 12:30 on the day of the court session. Similar protest will take place in Kiev at 13:00 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Riznytska str., 13/15).

The story describing what Luhansk “law enforcement” officers have done to the Nigerian student, already went beyond the borders of the city – or even those of the country, taking more and more international attention. Ukrainian Ombudsman Valeriya Lutkovska and General Prosecutor of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka declared officially that they had taken the student’s case under their personal control. There is no doubt that this story is another disaster for the image of Ukraine. But we still do not give up hope that Ukrainian authorities will take all measures needed in order to correct their shameful mistake and restore the rights of the international student.


Initiative “Justice for Olaolu”: “Justice for Olaolu” Initiative is an association of non-governmental organisations and individuals, concerned with criminal prosecution of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi, which appears to be biased and fabricated. Initiative was launched in order to gather and distribute information regarding his case, to defend Olaolu’s right to access to justice, and to restore justice in his case. “Justice for Olaolu” contacts:

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