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SBU names ex-official as suspect in leading Melitopol FSB branch, overseeing torture of locals

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Ukraine’s SBU security service has pressed new charges in absentia against Serhiy Handzha, a former high-ranking SBU official under Viktor Yanukovych, the special service reported on Dec. 9.

According to the investigation, after the start of the full-scale invasion, he headed the Russian Federal Security Service unit in the temporarily occupied part of Zaporizhzhya Oblast.

Read also: SBU nabs Supreme Court official who justified Russian invasion, awaited complete capture of Ukraine

Handzha has been hiding in Russia since 2014, but after the start of the full-scale invasion, he returned to occupied Melitopol and headed the local branch of the FSB.

He was responsible for suppressing resistance in the region in this position.

The suspect “organized mass persecution, abductions and torture of locals,” said the SBU.

Read also: Fugitive former President Yanukovych and son set to face trial for seizing Mezhyhirya Residence

According to the investigation, the occupation administration kidnapped locals on the streets or from their own homes and taking them to Russian torture sites where brutal methods were used. In this way, the Russians sought to instill fear in the regional population and coerce cooperation with the occupying authorities.

Handzha has been on the international wanted list since 2015. The National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions against him and stripped Handzha of all state awards and titles in February 2021.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers have filed new charges in absentia against him for collaboration. The maximum sentence under this article is up to 15 years in prison.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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