The 22 May Nakhodka court (Primorsky Krai, Russia) acquitted 39-year-old Galina Katorova, who stabbed her husband for many years.
This is a precedent and almost a miracle: at the end of last year, the prosecutor’s office insisted on seven years ’imprisonment, writes Larisa Zhukova specifically for Lenta.ru. Katorov was accused of premeditated murder, despite the fact that the investigation had established: the spouse choked her with a rope from a cross, and there was no living place on her body.
The story caused a wide resonance: in defense of a resident of Primorye, a petition of over 100 of thousands of users was signed. In February, the article was reclassified as “intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm”, and the court sentenced Galina to three years in prison. But on appeal, even the prosecution found the decision unfair and stated that the woman was forced to apply the necessary defense. How it became possible, found out "Lenta.ru".
"Life was such"
It happened on March 11 on 2017 in a one-room rented apartment in Nakhodka. 39-year-old Galina Katorova spent all day doing household chores, in the evening she put two-year-old daughter Vika to sleep. Her husband Maxim and neighbor Pavel had been sitting in the kitchen for a long time - both drank beer and were drunk. Maxim's phone rang, he went to talk, he returned angry. Galina asked him who called. Husband snapped: "What do you care, whore?". She could not hold offense: "If I am a whore, then who are you?" Maxim rushed at her, kicked her feet, then grabbed her neck and began to strangle with the rope on which she wore a cross. A neighbor went to the balcony. When he returned, he saw Galina with glass eyes and with a knife in her hand over the body of her spouse. She managed to hit 11. One fell on the heart and became fatal.
"He dragged her hair to throw away from the balcony"
Galina's relatives never endorsed her choice: in 2009, when Maxim started caring for her, he was convicted of causing moderate injuries after beating her boyfriend. But Galina fell in love. She waited for him from prison and received a marriage proposal. However, on the eve of registration, he beat her, and beat her with fists on the head and face. She canceled the wedding, but he managed to beg forgiveness. Doctors diagnosed her with “infertility”, and she became pregnant by Maxim, and it seemed to her that with the advent of the child, the man would improve and become softer.
This did not happen: he regularly beat her for seven years. From the side of their relationship, it seemed like hell, which was not far from the truth: Galina found herself in a dependent position, regularly experienced domestic violence, her mind and will were broken. She “drove things to and fro,” Galina’s sister recalled: “They had their whole life like this: he beat her - she goes to her parents, he asks for forgiveness beautifully, doesn’t give her a pass, calls her endlessly, promises: I love, I will buy and fly… They make peace and she comes back to him. ”
When in February 2016, Galina once again called her mother and said that she would come, and then changed her mind, she lost her temper: “Then don't complain again that he is hitting you! Do not ask us to take you away! ” Calls to the police for a long time did not lead to anything: they simply did not register, and the woman was alone with the tyrant.
The victim in the Katorova case was recognized the mother of the murdered. She requested a million rubles as moral compensation. 11 March Galina was placed in jail. Judicial psychologists have eliminated the state of affect, stating that, since the situation of the beatings was customary for the defendant, she had to adapt to it and not react to the aggression of her husband. Galina cried and continued to say that she loved him.
It struck me: such a young mother and 11 knife. What should a woman bring to this? When we sat down with her, and she told everything ...
The prosecutor's office demanded for Galina seven years of a colony under article 105 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“Murder”). Then the article was retrained to the Russian Criminal Code 111 (“Intentionally causing grievous bodily harm”), the court found Katorov guilty, sentenced to three years in prison, paying moral compensation to the mother of the deceased in the amount of 500 thousand rubles and refused to grant a suspension of execution of punishment, despite that the defendant has a young daughter.
By that time, social activists began a campaign in defense of Galina Katorova. Petition on the site Change.org demanding to recognize an innocent woman collected over 100 thousands of signatures. “While the problem of domestic violence remains unresolved, there are no shelters, support measures, law enforcement agencies are inactive, the victims are forced to resort to self-defense,” the report said.
On appeal, Galina was fully acquitted with the right to compensation for her stay in the SIZO.
“She needed to defend a name in order to look into the eyes of a child”
Interests of Galina Katorova in court were represented by counsel, the head of the Association of Advocates, Elena Solovyova. She specializes in managing the affairs of women who have experienced domestic violence and oversees community projects to protect the rights of women and children. In the Far East it is one o'clock in the morning, but fatigue is not heard in her voice: she has achieved what is extremely rare in Russia:
“Galya called me when her relatives took her out of the detention facility, and then I heard a child’s voice - a cry of happiness. When Galina was taken into custody, her daughter was two years old. She's four now. Galina was released just before the New Year for two months, and in February she was sentenced to three years in prison. It was hard to watch her daughter worry. The girl immediately fell ill, she began vomiting. Today, at the trial, I talked about how the verdict affected her health: I had a certificate from the crisis center where Vika undergoes rehabilitation, in which the psychotherapists pointed out that positive dynamics are not observed, because the psycho-traumatic situation for the child’s life is not excluded and that a reunion with the mother is necessary. She constantly cried and said: "What I have done." At the courts, she also said that she did not want her husband to die, repented and said that she did not know how she would live. ”
Daughter understood what was going on?
“She was told that her mother was at work. But when the grandmother returned from the courtroom without her mother, and the girl ran into the apartment with a cry “Mom, I came,” she was told that her mother had gone to work again. Vika burst into tears and said: "I know that the mother of police does not let go." Nobody told her what happened, but somehow the child received this information. ”
How are you generally interested in this business? After all, it was originally served as a typical drunken stabbing.
“Yes, and this is not surprising: her husband drank alcohol with a neighbor, and when the police saw the glasses on the table, the picture was clear to them. But the fact is that in her situation they didn’t conduct an inspection, and the same police officers in court said that neither Galina’s speech, nor posture, nor her gait aroused suspicion.
They appealed to me because I specialize in domestic violence, but earlier I only defended the victims in the procedural status, but Galina - also the victim - was the accused. I received an alarming letter from Galina’s mother: she wrote that her daughter had been taken into custody as an alcoholic who had killed her husband in a drunken stabbing, and that this was not true. When I began to understand and saw Galina, I had a feeling of rending injustice. At the beginning of my career, I needed to get experience and protect the killers, I had many such cases. And then I saw a frightened housewife, a warm, homely mother, who did not understand how she was behind bars. This woman was not the place there: she was so socialized, so obviously safe for society ... I was struck: a young mother - and 11 knife ... What should a woman bring to this? When we sat down with her and she said everything ... I wanted to restore justice. Galina did not believe it. She blamed herself. I don't know if she understood now that she is not a criminal, but the way she repented is beyond words. She constantly cried and said: "What I have done." In the courts, she also said that she did not want her husband dead, pleaded guilty and said she did not know how she would live. Even in the testimony of the police officers there is this: they were afraid that she would lay hands on herself right there, along with her husband, so they hid all sharp objects from her. And she was very sad for her daughter. Every time when I came to her, I drew some pictures, did something and asked to be handed to Vika. She lived with the thought of returning to the child. ”
Why in the materials of the investigation this story was presented as a domestic quarrel? After all, all the injuries of Galina were recorded, examinations of the reasons for their occurrence were carried out, and the results coincided with what Galina said.
“The investigation proceeded along the indictment bias. Even the wrongful behavior of the victim did not take into account. When Galina was finally charged, it was as if there were no beatings from Katorov. The prosecutor's office requested a very serious time. The judge asked why Galina provoked a drunken man, and in her decision indicated that Galina allegedly had the opportunity to leave the premises, to foresee what her actions would lead to ... While her husband was strangling her with a rope from her own cross. Of course, the court had to find out why a person could not act in a socially acceptable way, because there is such a thing as proportionality to the encroachment. But the problem is that the limits of necessary self-defense are also established in cases where the encroachment did not occur, but there was only a threat. If the defender understands the nature of the threat, he can still defend himself - in accordance with the Constitution of Russia and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). I referred to this in my appeal. Often, in the practice of Russian courts, the victim is accused, and there is some idea of the ideal victim: how she should behave in order to be believed. But in a situation with victims of domestic violence has its own specifics. Blaming the victim for not acting in the way that was expected of her is impossible. ”
How did you decide to appeal, because there was a risk of hardening the sentence?
Yes, indeed, many of my colleagues had such a sad experience: the sentence was appealed - and the prosecutor’s office stated that the sentence was too lenient, asked for more punishment, so they were afraid, withdrew complaints, agreed with what they had. I just knew that there was a necessary self-defense. Well, how can you, when you know the truth, to stay inactive? How not to use the chance? Our colleagues and non-colleagues were skeptical about us, saying that the article about self-defense does not work, that there are practically no precedents for its use. But we decided to go to the end and were even ready to go to the European Court of Human Rights.
But this is already a formal defense, because until the ECHR considers the materials, until it makes a decision, which will then be ignored in Russia, years go by, and the person just has time to serve the term ...
Russia ignores politicized decisions. Here is a question about the interests of a private individual. And I do not think that I would have ignored what would have happened in the European Court in defense of Galina. Yes, they listened to things for a long time, perhaps Galina would have served a term, but you must understand: for a person a good name is important. For Galina, who has never been brought to criminal or administrative responsibility, to get into such a meat grinder and get the stigma of a murderer for life, raising a daughter with such a stigma and somehow going into society, building communications, was simply unacceptable. She needed to defend a good name in order to look into the eyes of her child. She kept repeating: “How will I look into my daughter's eyes? How can I tell her that I killed her father? ” Now, of course, for her a huge mountain from the shoulders. This is not only physical - it is moral freedom.
Is this the final victory or does the prosecution still have the opportunity to "recoup"?
If the prosecutor's office recognized the necessary defense, I doubt that the prosecution will come out with a cassation protest. The only thing is that the victim remains, who was very unhappy: she asked for a million rubles in moral compensation, she was awarded half a million, and today she was deprived of it. If she appeals the decision of the court, we will go to the cassation instance, but still, I hope that this sentence will stand.
After this story, do you believe in the objectivity of the Russian judicial system?
Of course. If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t have been able to practice 20 for years, I would have burned out. Clients, I also teach to believe. Today's sentence inspires me. This feeling of a complete reboot is the desire to work, work and work. We will soon have one in the morning, and I still have the energy to communicate with you - this is due to the fact that there are such sentences. I think that these cases will start to float also because the women themselves, who are forced to defend themselves on their own and who are in custody, are finally beginning to realize that they have more rights than ordinary murderers.