The distraught father of a woman allegedly killed by a top Russian military historian has told a murder trial how he spent two days identifying his daughter from her dismembered body parts.
Anastasia Yeschenko, 24, was shot dead and her corpse was cut to pieces by renowned Napoleon expert Oleg Sokolov, prosecutors say.
The academic, 64 – who liked to dress as the French general and emperor – dumped his student’s body parts in a river in St Petersburg, it is alleged.
The court also heard evidence that the couple had quarreled shortly before her death in November last year.
Anastasia’s father Oleg Yeschenko told the trial about the macabre procedure when he was forced to identify the remains pulled from the Moika River.
‘On 11 and 12 November I identified the head, arm and torso of my daughter,’ he testified.
The victim’s mother Galina said she knew her daughter was in a ‘romantic relationship’ with Sokolov but said the student had ‘hesitated’ about marrying the historian, her university teacher.
The mother earlier testified that Anastasia was on the point of dumping him.
‘She had a fight with Sokolov because she wanted to go to a friend’s birthday. He hit her and called her ungrateful,’ she told the court.
A neighbour of Sokolov testified how she overheard the pair in a shouting match on the night the PhD student was killed.
Angelina Volskaya, 24, said she heard the couple’s final quarrel through the thin wall of her apartment.
‘I heard Yeshchenko loudly say: ‘Don’t touch me, please’.
Sokolov ranted at his lover and there was the sound of crashing furniture, the court was told. .
‘I heard at least five blows, after each the girl screamed and asked her not to touch her,’ the witness said.
‘Then she said, “Okay, I’m not going anywhere, you’re not a bastard, just don’t touch me.” Then I heard her loud screeching…two or three times.’
The row was on the night that the student died, it was later established.
Forensic expert Viktor Vasilenko, said: ‘The death happened four or five days before the body parts were found.’
Sokolov had first tried to suffocate her ‘but this was not the cause of death’. ‘Four shots were fired, three of them penetrating,’ he said.
‘The shots were fired in a short period of time and from a close distance of between 15 centimetres to one and a half metres….
‘The person who dismembered the body did not know the human anatomy well.’
Sokolov, a recipient of France’s Legion of Honour, is accused of shooting and dismembering Yeschenko with whom he had taken part in re-enactments of Napoleon’s life.
The court will later hear the professor’s defence.
He won the right for his lawyers to have access to messages on his and his lover’s smartphones.
This followed an earlier court session in which he ranted from the dock: ‘I insist this evidence is considered openly.’
The messages would show ‘the terrifying things she was writing to me’ and ‘monstrous insults’ to his children from previous relationships.
‘People must see this,’ he stormed, prompting the judge to order him: ‘Sokolov, calm down.’
His rant went on, flailing his arms and wildly wagging his finger, as he claimed: ‘It’s disgusting, vile, and only by knowing this can people understand what has happened.’