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Ukrainian ex-pilot Savchenko faces up to 25 years in jail

July 13, 2015, 15:51 UTC+3
The case will be heard by a court in southern Russia
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© Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

MOSCOW, July 13. /TASS/. Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko faces up to a quarter of a century in jail as the Russian investigators have reclassified the charges against her by collecting "irrefutable evidence" of her guilt, the official spokesman of Russia's Investigative Committee said on Monday.

Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office has sent the criminal case against Savchenko, 34, to a Donetsk city court in the Rostov region, in southern Russia, Vladimir Markin said.

"Taking into consideration the collected evidence, the investigators have reclassified the actions of the defendant and now she is set to bear responsibility not as an accomplice but as co-perpetrator of the killing of two or more persons by the dangerous means on motives of hatred for a social group, committed by a group of persons by previous concert," Markin said.

Savchenko is also charged with an attempt to kill civilians who could have been hurt a result of an adjusted artillery fire. This article implies punishment up to life in jail, but under the Russian Criminal Code, women cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment.

"So, the maximum jail term that Savchenko faces is 25 years," Markin said.

"As part of the investigation, irrefutable evidence was collected showing the direct complicity of Savchenko in the above mentioned crimes," the spokesman said.

First, these are data of the situational forensic examination, which confirmed that it was possible for Savchenko to carry out the task to adjust artillery fire at an area near the village of Metallist, he said earlier.

Second, the results of the ballistics examination of fragments taken out of the bodies of those killed, which confirmed that an artillery shelling from D-30 howitzers took place, he said. "Third," the top Russian investigator said, "these are Savchenko’s writings, as well as a detailed terrain map testifying to her role in hostilities."

Russian investigators say that Savchenko, the gunner of a Mi-24 helicopter, joined the notorious Aidar battalion during combat operations in the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine in June 2014.

Noting the position of a filming crew of the Russian State Broadcasting Company and other civilians, she allegedly reported the data to mortar-equipped personnel who fired on the crew and the civilians. As a result, correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin were killed.

Savchenko, who has been in custody in Russia since July 2014, does not admit her guilt. Her lawyers said they seek the case consideration by the jury, but their request is likely to be rejected.

In early 2015, the consideration of cases into premeditated murder of two or more persons against women was excluded from the jurisdiction of the jury court as women cannot be sentenced to life.

"Therefore, a criminal case against a man on these charges may be considered by the jury court and may not be considered against a woman. We believe this is illegal and we plan to challenge this," lawyer Nikolai Polozov earlier told TASS.

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