International

EU urges Ukraine to punish acid attack mastermind

A top EU official urged Ukrainian authorities on Friday to identify and punish those responsible for the death of an anti-corruption campaigner following a horrific acid attack.

Gandzyuk was an outspoken critic of corruption in law enforcement agencies
Gandzyuk was an outspoken critic of corruption in law enforcement agencies (AFP)

A top EU official urged Ukrainian authorities on Friday to identify and punish those responsible for the death of an anti-corruption campaigner following a horrific acid attack.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited Kiev after activist Kateryna Gandzyuk, 33, died at the weekend following months of treatment, including more than 10 surgeries.

He said the international community was "deeply shocked" by the tragedy.

"It's something we cannot accept," he told a news conference. "We all to have work hard to clear up this crime... The international community pays attention."

Gandzyuk, who worked as an adviser to the mayor of the southern city of Kherson, was attacked in July and had about a litre of acid poured on her.

Civil society activists accuse the authorities of failing to complete the investigation.

Police have detained two people and another three have been placed under house arrest but the mastermind is believed to be at large.

This week Ukrainian attorney general Yuriy Lutsenko offered to step down but lawmakers failed to approve his resignation in a test vote in parliament.

Lutsenko also said he told President Petro Poroshenko that he was ready to resign, adding that the Ukrainian leader would take a decision at a later date.

Two Ukrainian journalists have alleged that an aide to a lawmaker from Poroshenko's party may have acted as an intermediary in the attack.

The assistant, Igor Pavlovsky, has confirmed that he was questioned as a witness but denied being involved.

Gandzyuk was an outspoken critic of corruption in law enforcement agencies. She was hospitalised with burns on more than 30 percent of her body, including her upper torso, arms, and face.

Her death also drawn fresh attention to a spate of assaults on other anti-corruption campaigners over the past few months.