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ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 21. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, charged with complicity in the murder of two Russian journalists in Ukraine last year and illegal crossing of the Russian border, may be convoyed to the Rostov region in southern Russia by the end of the week, a law enforcement source has told TASS.
"She is expected to be in the region by the end of the week, probably on Saturday," he said. Savchenko’s case will be tried by the Donetsk city court of the Rostov region.
One of the pilot’s lawyers, Mark Feigin, said on July 17 that she had been convoyed to the Rostov region. On Monday, another lawyer, Ilya Novikov, told Tass he was not 100% sure that Savchenko had been convoyed to the southern Russian region to stand trial.
"I am not 100% sure she has been convoyed [to Rostov region]," Ilya Novikov told TASS on Monday. "The situation is like this: I am told at the detention centre, ‘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."
Savchenko’s case was submitted to the court in the Rostov region’s city of Donetsk on July 16. Savchenko 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 city 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 defense will be violated."
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 Luhansk 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.