KYIV -- Two traffic police officers who are suspected of fatally shooting a 5-year-old boy while firing bullets in the yard of a home outside Kyiv last week now face premeditated murder charges.
In a June 4 ruling, a court in the capital ordered Volodymyr Petrovets and Ivan Prykhodko to be jailed in pretrial detention for two months.
Petrovets and Prykhodko were detained after authorities said a boy was hit by a bullet one of them fired when they were shooting at aluminum cans in the yard of a home in Pereyaslav-Kmelnytskiy while drunk and off duty on May 31.
They were initially charged with hooliganism and inflicting bodily harm.
After the boy died in the hospital on June 3, the Prosecutor-General's Office said the charges were changed to premeditated murder.
Prosecutors gave no details about the reason for the premeditated murder charges and Prykhodko's lawyer disputed them in court on June 4, saying that the boy's death was an accident.
According to media reports, after the incident occurred district police initially said that the boy had fallen and hit his head on the pavement, but when he was hospitalized doctors found that he had a gunshot wound.
A lawyer for the slain boy's family said that the gun the shots were fired from had mysteriously disappeared, possibly during a search, and that the weapon had been fired by the son of one of the officers, who was at home at the time of the incident.
The lawyer, Oleksandr Shcherbina, also said that the officers were not tested for alcohol levels after the shooting so it has not been established that they were drunk.
The chief of police in the district where the shooting occurred was fired and the head of the National Police, Serhiy Knyazev, said later on June 3 that he accepted Kyiv regional police chief Dmytro Tsenov's resignation over the situation.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who took office on May 20, expressed condolences to the boy's relatives and vowed that "all those guilty will be punished in accordance with justice."
Amid political tension ahead of snap parliamentary elections that Zelenskiy has scheduled for July 21, some of the parties in the Verkhovna Rada have called on Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and other top officials to report to the legislature on the matter.