ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 20. /TASS/. Lawyers of Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is charged with complicity in the murder of two Russian journalists in Ukraine last year and illegal crossing of the Russian border, say they are not absolutely sure she was convoyed to Russia’s southern Rostov region where she is supposed to stand trial.
"I am not 100% sure she has been convoyed [to Rostov region]," Savchenko’s lawyer Ilya Novikov told TASS on Monday. "The situation is like this: I am told at the detention center, ‘She has been convoyed.’ I cannot verify whether it is true or not, since from the moment when a lawyer is told that his or her client has been convoyed to another prison to the moment when the lawyer sees the client at another penitentiary institution, the client disappears and it is impossible in principle to spot the client’s whereabouts. So, she may be still in Moscow, or be in the process of transportation."
The lawyer reminded of a similar incident with Savchenko in 2014. "We had a situation like this in September, when she was on the way to Moscow. We searched for her for four days. We lost the sight of her in Voronezh and found her in Moscow four days later. I cannot say anything with 100% confidence until any of my colleagues sees her," he said.
Novikov said Savchenko had three lawyers, with two of them being currently in Russia while he was working in Ukraine. "We have just finished reading the case. Last week, we received a verdict and are now checking this information in site," he said.
Another Savchenko’s lawyer, Mark Feigin, said on July 17 his client had been convoyed to the Rostov region.
Savchenko’s case was submitted to the court in the Rostov region’s town of Donetsk on July 16. In line with the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, the judge will take a decision within 14 days after the criminal case was referred to the court.
Savchenko has previously requested the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to change the jurisdiction of her criminal case consideration and transfer the court proceedings to Moscow. She motivated her request saying that due to the situation in the [neighboring the Rostov region] Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic (DPR and LPR), holding the court proceedings at the Donetsk town court might "create a serious threat to the life and health of my lawyers, sister Vera who, as the key witness for defense, is subject to summonsing to court, my mother who is going to attend the trial." Besides, the application underscores that none of the affected persons permanently lives in the Rostov region, while all expert examinations on the case have been held in Moscow. So, according to Savchenko, it will be objectively difficult to summon the affected persons and experts to the Donetsk court, "and in case they do not come my right to defence will be violated."
Savchenko is accused of involvement in the murder of two Russian journalists in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region last summer, as well as of illegal crossing of the border with Russia. The materials of her case were singled out from the general case on Ukrainian servicemen’s committing genocide and using banned means and methods of war. She has been arraigned. The period of investigation on her case has been extended until November 13. If found guilty, Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison. Her lawyers told TASS earlier that their client had asked her case to be considered by a jury.
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 on June 17, 2014.
Savchenko, who has been in custody in Russia since July 2014, does not admit her guilt. Her lawyers said they sought the case consideration by the jury, but their request was likely to be rejected.
In early 2015, the consideration of cases on premeditated murder of two or more persons by 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 told TASS previously.