Tags: Russia | Ukraine | Pilot

Russian Court Extends Detention of Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko

Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015 01:17 PM

A Ukrainian army pilot held on charges of aiding in the killing of two Russian journalists in east Ukraine last year was remanded in custody for a further three months by a Moscow court on Tuesday.

Nadezhda Savchenko, who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 13, looked visibly thinner than at previous court hearings. She was brought in handcuffed to a metal cage in the courtroom, exclaiming "Glory to Ukraine!"

Kiev and Washington have repeatedly urged her release and her lawyers say the charges are politically motivated.

The Basmanny district court ruled that Savchenko, a 33-year-old who enjoys the status of a national hero in Ukraine and was elected to parliament there last October, should be held until May 13.

She is accused of providing coordinates for a mortar attack that killed two Russian journalists in east Ukraine in June 2014, two months after a pro-Russian rebellion broke out in the Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"I absolutely do not agree with the investigation. I think this falsified circus should end and I should be finally returned to my homeland. I owe nothing to Russia or the Russian nation," Savchenko told the court in Ukrainian.

She was wearing a white T-shirt with a colorful trident, the national symbol of Ukraine.

"I will continue my hunger strike ... I will continue until the day of my return to Ukraine," she said.

Savchenko was drawing in the cage during several hours of the hearing and smiled through the bars to her elderly mother and sister, who were present but not allowed to talk to her.

Her lawyers say she may not live to see the trial.

"People on hunger strike live a maximum of 60 days without medicines. With medicines — a month-and-a-half, two more. Her arrest today was extended by three months," defense lawyer Ilya Novikov said. "This had nothing to do with a just court."

The fighting between Russia-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 5,000 people.

Kiev and the West say they have evidence that Russia is driving the rebellion, providing it with arms and troops. Moscow denies that.

Savchenko says she had already been held for an hour by pro-Russian rebels when the mortars hit. She says the rebels then handed her over to Russian intelligence operatives and she was taken to Russia illegally.

"I did not kill the Russian journalists, let alone because of national hatred," she said.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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A Ukrainian army pilot held on charges of aiding in the killing of two Russian journalists in east Ukraine last year was remanded in custody for a further three months by a Moscow court on Tuesday.
Russia, Ukraine, Pilot
406
2015-17-10
Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015 01:17 PM
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