In first court testimony, Karlik says he confessed to murder he didn't commit
The man accused of killing six members of the Oshrenko family in October said in court yesterday he had been sent to the family's Rishon Letzion home by Vadim Kirpichov, a Yisrael Beiteinu political official who serves as one of the city's deputy mayors - a charge Kirpichov dismissed as "ludicrous defamation."
In his first day of testimony, defendant Damian Karlik told the Petah Tikva District Court he had admitted to murders he did not commit.
Karlik's attorneys said they were considering summoning to court some of the potential witnesses Karlik mentioned.
Karlik is accused of killing a 3-year-old girl and 4-month-old boy - along with their parents and grandparents - because their father, Dmitry Oshrenko, fired him from his job as headwaiter at the family's high-end Rishon Letzion restaurant, Premier.
Karlik had initially told police he killed the Oshrenkos, who were found stabbed to death in a partially torched apartment, but later retracted his confession.
Police say Karlik is a compulsive gambler who felt humiliated when his boss fired him after accusing him of stealing a bottle of vodka. "I wanted to murder Dima. That was my whole purpose that day," police have said Karlik told them. "I saw the little children, but I saw them as Dima's children, and I saw him before my eyes."
However, Karlik told a radically different story on his first day in the witness stand.
Karlik told the court Kirpichov ordered him to go with a man identified only as Vlad, in an attempt to steal several items from the Oshrenko home. These, Karlik said, included videotapes, recorders, cameras, disks and documents that Kirpichov said would cause damage to the Oshrenkos.
Shortly before the family members were killed, Karlik said, he went with Vlad but did not find the equipment. He said Vlad told him: "You've proven your loyalty to the party. There is one more request to be made in the interest of strengthening the party."
Karlik said he was asked to go to the family's home again with Vlad. He was shown NIS 1,500 and told: "At 2 A.M. between Friday and Saturday the 17th you'll wait for Vlad in the Oshrenko home. You'll take a backpack and put a bottle full of gasoline in it. Bring handcuffs, rubber gloves and a flashlight."
"Of course I was shocked," Karlik said in court, adding that when he asked Vlad why he should bring those items, he was told, "That's none of your business, just do what is asked of you."
"I said I didn't want to," Karlik testified, adding he would have felt bad turning down Kirpichov because the deputy mayor had found him work. Karlik said he planned only to prepare the equipment, but not to be involved in using it.
Karlik said that the night of the killings, Vled met him behind the Oshrenko home and told him to wait downstairs and let him know if he heard anything. Karlik said he tried to argue with Kirpichov, but was told they had no time.
Yisrael Beiteinu officials dismissed the accusations as absurd.
"This is ludicrous defamation from a despicable child-killer who I hope will be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Kirpichov said.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, also of Yisrael Beiteinu, said: "These are ridiculous, exaggerated claims from a vile child-killer that merit no response."
In Karlik's testimony, he said Vlad emerged after 30 minutes and said Ludmilla, the grandmother who was killed, had lost consciousness.
"When I went over to Luda, I took her in my hands and saw blood underneath her," Karlik said. "I became hysterical. I winced, and he jumped on me and hit me in the stomach. It's like I blacked out - I felt she was looking at me."
Karlik said he wanted to call for help, but said Vlad threatened him with a knife, handcuffed him and left the apartment. He said Vlad returned shortly after and forced him to write a text message from the dead woman's phone to her daughter-in-law Tatiana, telling her to hurry home.
Karlik is to continue testifying today.