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Odessa massacre probe cannot be finished by mid-June — commission

June 03, 2014, 9:25 UTC+3 ODESSA
Police said they suspected some 50 persons in involvement in the riots
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The House of Trade Unions in Odessa

The House of Trade Unions in Odessa

© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Voytenko

ODESSA, June 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine's parliamentary commission investigating riots and bloodshed in the city of Odessa has requested to extend the investigation deadline due to a large amount of work.

On May 2, militants from Ukraine's ultranationalist Right Sector and the so-called Maidan's self-defense torched the House of Trade Unions and tents in the Kulikovo filed, where city residents had been gathering signatures for Ukraine's federalization and demanding the state status for the Russian language. Forty eight people were killed and another 200 were wounded. Some Ukrainian politicians said the Kiev authorities had understated the number of victims which might exceed 100.

"The investigation is continuing, but it's clear that it cannot be finished quickly, not with so many suspects and persons involved. Wrapping up the commission's work in two weeks would look odd at the very least, and put in doubt our initial goal — to know the truth," Svetlana Fabrikant, Secretary of the Commission, said on Tuesday.

Police said they suspected some 50 persons of involvement in the riots. "Forty people have been placed under house arrest, and another 13 are in custody," Grigory Mamka, deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s Main Investigation Department (GSU), said. "Also, several suspects have been convoyed from Odessa to Kiev. Prosecutors demanded their custody, but a court ruled in favor of their house arrest."

Investigators have already questioned more than 340 people, and some 80 expert examinations will be carried out to find the cause of people's deaths at the Odessa House of Trade Unions. One body has not been identified yet.

Videos taken by both sides are being examined for the sake of objectivity. Police are identifying activists and persons who carried firearms and who were using them, according to Mamka.

The main findings are expected by mid-June. Mamka noted that some citizens who had requested medical assistance after the Odessa riots lied about their identity.

"Although the police are establishing their identities, some victims refuse to give evidence. These are mostly people who were beaten up," the GSU official said. "We do have this problem, but we still try to question them as witnesses."

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