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German police detain suspect in Ukrainian basketball player murder case

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 12, 2024 1:14 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian youth basketball player Volodya Yermakov, age 17. (Ukraine Basketball Federation / Facebook)
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Editor's note: The article initially said that the murder took place in Dusseldorf, Germany. It was later clarified that it took place in the nearby city of Oberhausen, which is part of the Dusseldorf administrative region.

The German police had already detained the person suspected of murdering 17-year-old Ukrainian basketball player Volodymyr Yermakov in Germany, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said on Feb. 12.

Yermakov and his teammate, Artem Kozachenko, were reportedly attacked with knives in the street on Feb. 10 in Oberhausen. Yermakov died in the hospital due to his injuries, while Kozanchenko remains in intensive care.

According to the German police and prosecutors, the incident began at 8:15 p.m. local time as a confrontation between two groups of young people at a bus stop on Willy-Brandt-Platz in Oberhausen, Focus reported.

Verbal conflict on the bus escalated into violence after the passengers got out of the vehicle.

Four young people suffered knife wounds, including the two Ukrainians and two other minors aged 14 and 13, German authorities said.

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Local authorities said that two suspects, aged 15 and 14, were initially detained on the morning of Feb. 11 in connection to the case, according to Focus.

An arrest warrant was reportedly issued against the 15-year-old, while the 14-year-old was handed over to legal guardians due to insufficient evidence.

The investigation into the circumstances and motives is ongoing.

According to the Kyiv Basketball Federation (FBK), the young men's attackers may have been motivated by hatred against Ukraine. However, the German police do not believe the attack had a political motive, t-online reported.

Ukrainian consular representatives in Dusseldorf held talks with local police and stressed the need to carry out the investigation as soon as possible to bring perpetrators to justice, Nikolenko said.

The Ukrainian consulate is monitoring Kozanchenko's treatment. According to Nikolenko, his condition is stable, and his life is not in danger.

Yermakov played for the ART Giants youth team in Dusseldorf. He played basketball throughout his childhood and was a member of Ukraine's youth national team at the 2022 European Championship in Bulgaria. The FBK and Ukraine's National Basketball Federation (FBU) expressed condolences to Yermakov's family.

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