A school teacher on Wednesday appeared in court in Ukraine after allegedly trying to sell a 13-year-old schoolgirl under her care for more than $10,000
Language teacher Galyna Kovalenko, 52, who has been charged with human trafficking, faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of targeting the girl who was a pupil at the state boarding school where she worked.
Kovalenko denies the charges and says she has been set up.
She was detained on Monday after allegedly being “caught red-handed as she took the girl from her boarding school, led her to the buyers and received money”, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook. The court in the eastern city of Kharkiv remanded her in custody for two months pending her trial.
State boarding schools in Ukraine are usually in poor condition and the students come from underprivileged backgrounds.
The teacher “had been working for nearly a year on this project to sell the 13-year-old girl”, Avakov said.
The court heard that the teacher was detained after police set up a sting operation.
The minister said earlier in another Facebook post that “the buyer even asked about child’s state of health, hinting at organ removal — and she (Kovalenko) agreed to provide the girl’s photos and medical record for an additional 1,000 hryvnias ($28 US dollars)”.
Before appearing in court on Wednesday, the teacher protested her innocence to journalists.
“I do not admit guilt. Someone is trying to set me up,” she said.