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Moscow concerned about detained Russian citizens’ fate in Libya

June 30, 2014, 19:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW
In June 2012, Libya’s high military tribunal found Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian citizens guilty of cooperating with the regime of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
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© EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI

MOSCOW, June 30. /ITAR-TASS/. The fate of Russian citizens — Alexander Shadrov and Vladimir Dolgov — arrested in Libya remains a matter of concern to Moscow, Russian Ambassador in Tripoli Ivan Molotkov said.

“Unfortunately, no trial of the Russian citizens has been held in civil court so far. They were convicted by a court martial but then it was decided that it could not handle the case further,” he told ITAR-TASS on Monday, June 30.

The date of the trial has been set several times but each time it was postponed.

“We have consular access to the convicts and buy basic necessities for them. The authorities do not prevent us from bringing them clothes and food,” the diplomat said, adding that the Russians were held in “bearable” conditions.

In June 2012, Libya’s high military tribunal found Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian citizens guilty of cooperating with the regime of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Shadrov was proclaimed to be the leader of the group and got a life sentence. Dolgov, three Belarusians and 19 Ukrainians received 10 years in prison.

In August, the case of Shadrov and Dolgov was referred to a civil court for review and their verdict was annulled, head of the consulate department of the Russian Embassy in Libya Denis Knyshev said earlier this year.

“The High Military Tribunal of Libya passed a ruling on the appeal, according to which the Russian citizens’ case was handed over for review by a civil court. The previous verdict has been annulled,” Knyshev said.

The country’s prosecutor general’s office will decide if it should change the charges brought by the military prosecutors.

“The status of the Russian citizens has changed from convicts to detainees,” the diplomat said.

In June 2012, the High Military Tribune found a group of Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian nationals guilty of assistance to Gaddafi’s regime and attempted murder through repairing military hardware used by the government troops against the opposition.

“Representatives of the competent Libyan ministries expressed readiness to provide assistance in resolving this humanitarian issue in the spirit of traditionally friendly relations existing between Russia and Libya and in compliance with Libya’s legislation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The decision in the case of Russian citizens Alexander Shadrov and Vladimir Dolgov will be made shortly, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in September when Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz visited Russia, citing the Libyan authorities’ assurances.

“In connection with controversial publications that periodically appear in our press, including those that refer to the relatives of Shadrov and Dolgov, who have been sentenced by a Libyan court martial for assistance to the Gaddafi regime, we would like to confirm that the task of freeing these Russian citizens and bringing them back home remains one of the priorities in the work of the Russian Foreign Ministry, specifically of our Embassy in Tripoli,” he said.

Recalled that immediately after the guilty verdict, an appeal was prepared and filed by a local lawyer hired by the Russian Embassy.

“Consideration and contesting of the court ruling has been delayed by the fact, as the Libyan side has explained, that governmental institutions are being rearranged in the country, including judicial bodies. Nevertheless, the Libyan authorities have assured us that the decision on the case would be made shortly,” he said.

“The Russian Embassy in Tripoli continues to provide constant consultative, moral and psychological support to the convicts,” Lukashevich said. “Officials from the Embassy's consular section visit Shadrov and Dolgov on a regular basis, supply them with food, clothes and basic necessities.”

The spokesman said that the convicted Russian citizens had not complained to diplomats about their conditions, health or treatment.

“They say that they are not compelled to any compulsory labor,” he added.

Moscow intends to “actively press the Libyan side for releasing Shadrov and Doglov at the earliest opportunity possible as well as the citizens of Belarus and Ukraine who were sentenced together with them and for letting them go back home,” the spokesman said.

This issue was discussed at a meeting between Lavrov and then Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Khayal on September 27, 2012 in New York during the ministerial week of the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly is taking place.

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