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Ukraine's ex-pilot Savchenko sentenced to 22 years in jail in Russia

March 22, 2016, 16:50 UTC+3

The Russian court found Nadezhda Savchenko guilty of murder, assassination attempt and illegal border crossing

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Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

© Valery Matytsin/TASS

DONETSK (ROSTOV REGION), March 22. /TASS/. A court in the city of Donetsk, Russia’s southern Rostov region, sentenced Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko to 22 years in a general regime penal colony and a fine worth 30,000 rubles ($442) on Tuesday.

Savchenko was found guilty of murdering VGTRK journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin as well as of an attempt to kill civilians. She was also convicted for illegal crossing of the Russian state border.

Savchenko’s term will be calculated from the date of detention - June 23, 2014. Savchenko pleaded not guilty and said that she would appeal her jail sentence.

Court considers evidence collected by Russian investigators credible

The court has recognized as credible and impartial the evidence collected by the Russian Investigative Committee in the case of Savchenko.

"The prosecution evidence is credible and refutes the lawyers’ version of Savchenko’s innocence," the verdict says.

Also, the court has no grounds not to trust the testimony of prosecution witnesses, Judge Leonid Stepanenko said while reading out the verdict. He noted that the guilty verdict was based on testimony of these witnesses as well as the results of multiple forensic examinations in the case determining Savchenko’s guilt in the charged offense.

The court sees no grounds for re-checking if Savchenko had an alibi. The verdict notes that the witness testimony and expert reports rule out her alibi. Therefore, the court "sees no grounds for forwarding to Ukraine an application for legal aid for re-checking Savchenko’s alibi."

The stance of the lawyers and their client has been chosen by them to avoid legitimate punishment, the verdict says. "The court is critical about the lawyers’ version of Savchenko’s innocence, since the evidence presented by them is fully refuted by the case files," the judge who read out the verdict said.

Correction of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko is possible only in isolation from society," the Donetsk City Court of Russia’s Rostov region went on to say.

The court therefore found no grounds for giving Savchenko a suspended sentence.

Under Russian legislation, women may not be given a sentence with their stay in a strict regime prison.

The Donetsk city court resumed the announcement of the verdict in the Savchenko case earlier on Tuesday. On Monday, the court ascertained Savchenko’s guilt under three articles of the Russian Criminal Code.

The verdict notes that Savchenko "having military training skills as well as the experience of participation in combat operations in Iraq, while on vacation, arrived in the Aidar battalion under the command of Sergei Melnichuk stationed in Schastye settlement in the Lugansk region on her personal initiative with a view to taking part in the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine." Savchenko voluntarily decided to take part in the artillery bombardments with the use of D-30 howitzers against civilians who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian authorities and opted for creating a separate republic. The defendant’s actions, according to the verdict, were motivated by hatred and enmity towards civilians.

Savchenko earlier said she did not recognize the verdict and would not appeal it. She intends to resume a dry hunger strike to demand her release and return to Ukraine.

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