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Witness says Ukraine ex-pilot captured after deadly artillery shelling

October 15, 2015, 15:16 UTC+3 DONETSK
The Ukrainian’s lawyers claim that Nadezhda Savchenko had been already captured and could not have been the artillery spotter during the attack that killed the reporters
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Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

© TASS/Valeriy Matytsin

DONETSK/Rostov region/, October 15. /TASS/. A witness said on Thursday former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko was taken hostage already after the artillery shelling in summer 2014 that killed Russian reporters.

Yegor Russkiy, who is now the mayor of Lutugino in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, told the court in Donetsk in southern Russia that he took a video of capturing Savchenko that he later handed over to journalists.

Savchenko was captured by the fellow Luhansk militias along with Ukrainian servicemen, and the witness saw her already as a hostage. Savchenko said she was a shooter and had a rifle. "I was later told that she is a helicopter pilot and a gunner," he said.

Savchenko later confirmed that she was the artillery spotter, he added. The Ukrainian’s lawyers claim that Savchenko had been already captured and could not have been the artillery spotter during the attack that killed the reporters.

The trial of Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot-turned-MP, began in a Donetsk court in Russia’s Rostov region on September 22.

Investigators say Savchenko, a Ukrainian forces officer, joined the Aidar militant battalion and in June of last year was conducting covert surveillance and direction of artillery bombarding of a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine's self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.

Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin died in the shelling. Savchenko is also charged with attempted homicide as six local residents also came under fire.

If found guilty, Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison.

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