World Europe 21 Mar 2016 Russian court finds ...

Russian court finds Ukrainian pilot guilty of killing reporters

REUTERS
Published Mar 21, 2016, 3:29 pm IST
Updated Mar 21, 2016, 3:29 pm IST
Nadezhda Savchenko is regarded as a symbol of anti-Kremlin defiance and is accused of killing two Russian journalists.
Ukrainian jailed military officer Nadezhda Savchenko. (Photo: AP)
 Ukrainian jailed military officer Nadezhda Savchenko. (Photo: AP)

Donetsk: A Russian court on Monday found Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko guilty of complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists, a verdict certain to inflame already dire relations between Moscow and Kiev.

Savchenko, 34, was captured by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 during the separatist conflict there and handed over to Russia where she was charged with directing mortar fire, which killed two Russian journalists. She however has denied wrongdoing.

 

Savchenko is regarded as a national hero and symbol of anti-Kremlin defiance by many in her native Ukraine. In Russia, state TV has depicted her as a dangerous Ukrainian nationalist with the blood of civilians on her hands.

The judge, Leonid Stepanenko, told a courtroom in southern Russia that Savchenko had "deliberately inflicted death on two persons, acting by prior conspiracy, and on the motives of hatred and enmity."

Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence her to 23 years in prison. Savchenko hopes she will be returned to Ukraine before too long as part of an exchange deal between Moscow and Kiev and has been on hunger strike to try to speed up the trial and its outcome.

 

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