“Her head had been stitched up — he was beaten with a hammer”

on 22 may, the court of Nakhodka (Primorsky Krai) acquitted 39-year-old Galina Katorobo, which caused beating her for years her husband fatal blow with a knife. This is a precedent and almost a miracle: at the end of last year prosecutors insisted on seven years of imprisonment. Katorobo was charged with premeditated murder, despite the fact that the investigation found that her husband strangled her with a rope on the cross, and her body was not a living space. The story caused a wide resonance: to protect residents of Primorye signed a petition of over 100 thousand users. In February an article retrained in “deliberate causing of heavy harm to health” and the court sentenced the woman to three years in prison. But on appeal, even the prosecution has considered the decision unfair and said that the woman was forced to use self-defense. How this was possible, found out “the Tape.ru”.

It happened on 11 March 2017 a one-room rented apartment Finds. 39-year-old Galina Katarova the whole day doing household chores and in the evening, put two year old daughter Vika to bed. The kitchen has long sat her husband Maxim and neighbor, Paul, both had a beer and was drunk. Spouse’s phone rang, he went out to talk and came back angry. Galina asked him who was calling. Husband retorted: “What do you care, whore.” She knew he was capable of anything, but are unable to hold a grudge: “If I’m a whore, then who are you?” she said. The next minute Maxim rushed to her and began kicking and grabbed by the neck and started choking him with a rope, on which she wore a cross. The neighbor went out on the balcony. When he returned, he saw Galina with glass eyes with a knife in his hand over the body of her husband. She managed to put 11 shots. One hit the heart and was fatal.

Galina’s Family never approved of her choice as soon as Maxim started to take care of it, received a conviction for causing injuries of medium severity, beating her boyfriend. It was in 2009. Galina came out of prison and received an offer of marriage, but before registration, he beat her with fists on the head and face. She called off the wedding, but he managed to beg for forgiveness: the doctors put her “infertility”, but unexpectedly she got pregnant from Maxim, and it seemed to her that the male will change and become softer.

This did not happen: he regularly beat her for seven years. On the part of their relationship seemed a hell that was far from the truth — Galina was in a dependent position and regularly experienced domestic violence, and her mind and will were broken. She “drove things here and there”, recalled sister Galina: “they Have a whole life that was: he beat her she is to her parents, he asks for forgiveness is beautiful, the aisle, she does not, calling endlessly, promises: love, buy and fly… make up, and she returns to him”.

When once again, in February 2016, Galina called her mother and said that he would come, but then changed his mind, she flared up and said, “Then don’t complain when he beats you! Don’t ask us to pick you up!” Contacting the police for a long time nothing: they simply did not register, and the woman was a tyrant one-on-one.

the Victim in Kastorovoe recognized the victim’s mother. She sought one million rubles in moral damages. March 11, Galina was placed in jail. In September, forensic experts ruled out the heat of passion, stating that, because the situation of the beating was usual for the defendant, she had to adapt to these and not react to the aggression of her husband. Galina cried and kept saying she loved him.

I was amazed that such a young mother and 11 the knife… What was a woman to bring to this? When we sat down, and she told…

the Prosecutor’s office demanded for Galina seven years in prison under article 105 of the Russian criminal code (“Murder”). Then the article was changed to 111 of the criminal code of Russian Federation (“Deliberate causing of heavy harm to health”), the court recognized Katorobo guilty, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and payment of moral damages to the mother of the deceased in the amount of 500 thousand rubles, and refused to grant a delay in the execution of the punishment, despite the fact that the house was left a young daughter.

By the time the activists launched a campaign in defense of Galina Katrovas. The petition on the website Change.org with the requirement to recognize an innocent woman gathered more than 100 thousand signatures. “At a time when the issue of domestic violence is not allowed, there are no shelters, support measures inactive law enforcement, the victims are forced to resort to self-defense”, — stated in the message.

On appeal, the woman was fully justified with a right to compensation for the stay in prison.

Interests Galina Katrovas were represented in court by lawyer, head of the Association of lawyers “Assistance” Elena Solovieva. She specializiruetsya on the conduct of 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 the hour of the night, but her voice is not audible to fatigue: it has ensured that very rarely in Russia. About how she did it, she described “the Ribbon.ru”.

“Ribbon.ru”: this sentence is a victory?

Solovyev: For a lawyer in Russia to get an acquittal is always a great honor, given our statistics on the acquittal verdicts. Of course, ideally Galina did not have neither detained nor accused of this serious crime, nor even to pass sentence on felony article. All this was not to be, but we soberly understand our judicial system, so when the law still prevails, it is impossible not to rejoice.

the Judge twice had to announce the decision of acquittal, because neither Galina nor her family did not believe in leniency.

How was the meeting today?

the Case was heard by a panel of three judges. Usually the session of the appellate instance is fast enough, but today, the judge deliberated for a very long time — approached the matter seriously. Honestly, 20 years of practice, this happens very rarely. We waited for 40 minutes. The judge twice had to announce the decision of acquittal, because neither Galina nor her family did not believe in leniency.

This is the most brilliant victory in your practice?

This is the most concerning to me personally. First, I’m a woman, secondly, I am a mom myself and to me this story strongly cling personally, I really wanted the results in this case. This is a story that, regardless of pay or not, are you willing to work day and night. I really wanted to Galina went back to her daughter.

she is Now at home?

Yes, She called me at that moment, when her out of jail was taken away by relatives, and then I heard a child’s voice, a cry of joy. When Galina was taken into custody, her daughter was two years old. She is now four. Galina was released just before the New year for two months, and in February she was sentenced to three years imprisonment. How worried daughter, it was hard to watch. The child immediately fell ill, she began vomiting. Today on the court I talked about how the sentencing has affected her health: I had help from a crisis center where she is undergoing rehabilitation doctors-therapists pointed out that the positive dynamics is not observed because it is not excluded traumatic situation for the child’s life, and it is necessary reunification with mother.

She was just crying and saying, “What have I done”. At the courts also said that he did not want her husband’s death, pleaded guilty and said he did not know how to live.

Daughter understood what was happening?

told Her mom at work. But when the grandmother returned from the courtroom without a mother, and the girl ran into the apartment shouting: “Mom, I came”, she replied that her mum had left for work, Vick burst into tears and said, “I know the mother is Pilica does not let go”. Nobody said that happened, but somehow the child this information.

How did you become interested in this case? Because originally it was presented as your typical drunken stabbing.

Yes, and it’s no wonder her husband drank alcohol together with a neighbor, and when the police saw standing on the table, the glasses, the picture was clear. But the fact that her situation did not conduct the examination, and the same police officers in court said that neither it nor the pose, nor the gait of Galina did not arouse suspicion.

I was approached because I specializies on domestic violence, but I used to protect only victims procedural status, here is Galina, is also the victim, was the defendant. I received a disturbing letter from my mom Galina: she wrote that her daughter was taken into custody as alcoholic, in a drunken stabbing stabbed her husband, and that’s not true. When I began to understand and saw Galina, I have a feeling tearing apart of injustice. Early in my career I needed to gain experience and to protect the killers, and I had a lot of such cases. And then I saw a frightened housewife, homely mother, who does not understand how ended up in jail. The woman there was not a place she was so socialized, so obviously safe for the community… I was amazed that such a young mother and 11 the knife… What was a woman to bring to this? When we sat down and she told me everything I wanted to restore justice. Galina didn’t believe it. She kept blaming herself. Don’t know if she understood now that she’s not a criminal, but the way she confessed, not words. She was constantly crying and said, “What have I done”. At the courts also said that he did not want her husband’s death, pleaded guilty and said he did not know how to live. Even in the testimony of the police officers got it: they were afraid that she’ll kill myself right there along with her husband, so she hid away from all sharp objects. And she very much longed for daughter. Every time I came to her, drew some pictures, something was making and asked me to tell Vick. She lived only thinking about how to return to the child.

Why in the investigation of this story was presented as a domestic quarrel? After all the injuries Galina was recorded, was conducted the examination of the causes as they might arise, and the results coincided with those that said Galina?

the Investigation went on for convictions. Even the wrongful conduct of the victim a consequence not taken into account. When Galina was priyalal the final charge as if no beating from Katarova was not. The Prosecutor’s office requested a very serious time. The judge asked why Galina provoked a drunken man, and in its decision stated that Galina was able to leave the room, to anticipate the consequences of her actions… At the time, as her husband strangled with a rope from her cross. Of course, the court must find out why people could not act in a socially acceptable way, because there is such a thing as proportionality infringement. But the problem is that the limits of self-defense established in those cases where the infringement has not occurred, and was only a threat. If the defenders clear the nature of the threat, he still can defend himself, according to the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on human rights (ECHR). I have referred to in their appeal. Often in the practice of Russian courts is the accusation of the victim and there is a certain idea of the perfect victim: how she should behave to hear her. But in the situation of victims of domestic violence has its own specifics. Blame the victim for what she did, as she had expected, it is impossible.

This was your main argument?

Yes, we did focus on self-defense: Halyna was every reason to fear and to fight for his life. This right of the citizen to protect his life, and we have the right to self-defense. I want to mention that the public Prosecutor asked to cancel a sentence and to reclassify the offense to another article 114 of the criminal code of Russian Federation about excess of limits of necessary defence. That is, even the Prosecutor agreed with those arguments that is required for self-defense was, but Galina has exceeded the limits and that her actions were disproportionate to the actions of the attacker of her husband. We stood in position with Galina that no abuse was it choked her, she had every reason to understand that she can say goodbye to a life, and it could act in self-defense. The court found her innocent.

From the wording that she acted in self-defense?

Today we have received only the operative part of the decision, later I will get the reasoned decision of the court, which will contain the arguments, and will better understand what the defense’s arguments worked. Now I do not presume to judge what acted on the court, but justified it in connection with the necessary defence.

what do you think happened today, why suddenly the prosecution changed its position?

Initially, the case was heard in the Discovery, then moved to the regional Prosecutor’s office. Today, the prosecution was represented by the regional Prosecutor. I guess they’re just more carefully examined and analyzed the case.

How did you decide to appeal, because there was a risk of a tougher sentence?

Yes, indeed, this sad thing was many of my colleagues, when appealed the verdict and the prosecution said that the sentence is too soft, asked to increase the punishment, so they were afraid and withdrew the complaint, agree with what you have. I just knew that there is a necessary self-defence. How can you, when you know the truth, to do nothing. How not to use a chance? Us were skeptical and colleagues, and College, said that the article on self-defence does not work, there are practically no precedents of its use. But we decided to go to the end and was even ready to go in European court of human rights.

But it’s formal protection, because so far the ECtHR will consider the materials for a court to make a decision, which then will ignore in Russia, years pass and the man just manages to serve a sentence.

Russia ignore the decisions are politicized. The question here is about the interests of a private person. And I don’t think there would have disregarded what would have happened in the European court in defense of Galina. As for listening to cases for a long time and that Galina would have served time, you must understand that it is important for people good name. For Galina, the man who never was involved neither to criminal, nor to administrative responsibility, with a clean reputation, to get into a chopper and to for life the stigma of a murderer, to raise a daughter with the stigma, and then go out into the community, to build communication, it is simply unacceptable. She had to defend the good name to look into the eyes of your child. She kept repeating: “How am I going to look into the eyes of his daughter? How do I tell her that I killed her father?” Now, of course, for her, a huge weight off my shoulders. It is not only physical, it is moral freedom.

This is final victory or the prosecution still has the opportunity to “win”?

If the Prosecutor’s office recognized the need for defense, I doubt that it will be released with the cassation protest. The only remains of the victim who was very unhappy: she asked me a million roubles in moral damages, she was awarded half a million, and today such a right she took away. If she would appeal the court’s decision, we will go to the court of cassation, but still I have hope that this verdict will stand.

But how did you manage to achieve a complete revision of the sentence, if the court of first instance failed even to prove the heat of passion Galina?

Yes, I have repeatedly applied to the examination was repeated, and I was denied. The problem is that at its Foundation was based on witness statements that were collected by the investigator at the initial stage. Assembled but weird. Thus, one of indications member of the PPP said that Galina was quiet and that’s it, an experienced PPS employee, surprised. When it came to the process, he said, “I didn’t mean that she is indifferent, I mean that she was in a stupor. She had a specific tantrum after doctors announced the verdict: the husband is dead. Prior to that she was in shock.” It was the same with other evidence. In the testimony of the witnesses called view Galina evil, and the court said that look was not angry, and glass. But based on primary evidence forensic psychologists concluded that no affect was not. For me it was just an anecdotal case, if it hadn’t been so sad when the expert witness said, because domestic violence for Galina to have been systematic, it was usual for her, she couldn’t be frustration, stress, and other stresses. “Domestic violence was so common that there was nothing to fear” — here are the conclusions. But for 20 years I had only one case when we proved the heat of passion, and by the time my client spent two years in jail. The relation immediately follows for convictions and for some reason also applies for examination.

How you worked with these arguments of the prosecution?

I brought to the meeting of psychologist from the Crisis center women, which has long worked with victims of to the judge just heard, what is the psychological profile of the victim, and realized that Galina is not possible to assess how a person’s rational and legally savvy, which can make an informed, socially acceptable solution in a situation when she was strangled her husband, as it is approved by the Treasury experts. Thanks to the court that given the opportunity, because usually the lawyers denied the assistance of independent experts. The psychologist said that for victims of violence in situations characterized suzannet and chaotic consciousness, lack of confidence in their own strength, and in the end the judge asked this question: “Well, just tell me: did he really just brought her?” Then I realized that the judge is also aware that it was systematic domestic violence.

But perhaps not everyone understands what this have to do with domestic violence.

the Most direct. If we have the proper level has been established working with these women was the law that introduced measures for the prevention of domestic violence, and husband of Galina, and many other aggressors can be stopped. In domestic violence there is a sign of escalation. If the aggressor stops no one, violence is becoming more widespread and more tragic consequences. Starts with a slap and ends with the grave. And if Maxim House met the response of law enforcement, he wouldn’t have acted like a tyrant, and Galina would be more moral strength to leave him on time. The night before the wedding he beat her, and the wedding had to be cancelled. If our mentality it was a crime, she might have gone before. But she was trying to ask for help: he brought statements of the district. The district has put them in a table, do not register and began to admonish Kotorovych “be reconciled”. When a Russian woman comes to the police for protection, she never suggests that domestic battery are in the nature of private prosecution (that is, that she needs to remove all of the injuries and prove that they caused it husband), she just say: we know you, now will start dirty paper, and then you make it up, were you thinking who to marry? That is, begin to condemn the woman. She sees that there is no response, accordingly, she lost the last hope of protection, a belief in justice. The result is what happened with Galina.

But the refusal of registration statements are illegal? The Prosecutor’s office was interested in this precinct?

utterly wrong: the police authority is obliged in any case to register the statement, and if he sees no signs of an offense or of an offense is obliged to give a reasoned refusal. But we didn’t write complaints about a particular district, because it was different departments for seven years. I now have a similar case: a woman killed his father. She appealed to the police repeatedly over several years. Her head had been stitched up — he is a hammer used to hit her. The day before she stabbed him, she broke his nose. She called the police. This appeal was taken. But no one left. Just on this incident I will be writing a complaint, because in that situation, and I see their spelling, at least. They are required to work with an environment where domestic violence is prevalent because it is the default the criminal environment, but these cases still are not serious. It is still latent — that is, unsolved crimes, though, not even crimes and administrative offenses. Just because the police don’t want to come to the calls or to bring the case to the end. In the end, the woman killed his father.

What role did public support? Did you petition in defense of Galina, who signed more than one hundred thousand people?

In the debate I have referred to these petitions and articles, talked about the fact that the purpose of the sentence, according to the Criminal procedure code, is the restoration of social justice, and the task of punishment is to eliminate the public danger of the act. And when we’re talking about the elimination of public danger, perhaps, society itself should determine that it is dangerous, what is not. I was shown the petition and said that society and its position a hundred thousand people defended Galina Katrovas. The society’s indignation at such an accusation. My colleagues said that they do not refer to Newspapers and petitions, and, to be honest: I was sure I would refuse, even in attaching these materials to the case, and was surprised that they were packaged. But when you understand the hopelessness of the situation, to connect “heavy artillery” and I think it is beautiful or ugly.

Also helped me a lot Mari Davtyan my coworker, teacher and inspirer. In 2014 I learned from her the project of International law school on the protection of women’s rights. We were constantly in touch, despite time zones, we had constant brainstorming. I also helped Valentina Frolova, a colleague of international qualifications, she has helped to build arguments from a position of the European Convention on human rights. And Alyona Popova — information support.

How today’s acquittal will affect the outcome of such cases, do you think?

we Have the concept of uniformity of application of the law, and although judges are not bound by the findings of their colleagues, litigation in any case is analyzed and taken into account in sentencing, and if the precedent is created, it affects subsequent practice. I just found out today that a month ago court overturned the verdict in a similar case, and perhaps in our case, it also played a role. Just not to all such cases a formal approach. Yeah, they look like a murder, but need to analyze each individual case, taking into account all of the circumstances. Galina kept saying, “we Have been sitting in a cell for two women: one pensioner who killed her husband when he was choking her husband, the other is a girl who is drunk kicked the bum. Both given eight years.” She believed that in her case, someone will pay attention to systematic violence: the cell was full of women with bruises, a beating which no one recorded. But such a situation is unacceptable!

I will say openly: in the first stage of the preliminary investigation I need for journalists to run and all requested: please write about this. All said, the case is ordinary, nothing to write about? But when joined by social activists, human rights defenders, journalists, the business received a completely different status. I think that in our society something start started to change this attitude: the case of Galina stirred up so many layers of the issues of decriminalizing domestic battery.

You’re following this story believe in the objectivity of the Russian court system?

of Course. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able 20 years to practice, I would have burned out. Customers I too learn to believe. Today’s sentence inspires me. This feeling full reboot, 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 these things only start to come up also because women themselves are forced to defend themselves and are detained, finally beginning to realize that they are not ordinary murderers, and they have rights. I just addressed a similar situation again Finds. I’ll figure it out.