MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/. Preliminary hearings of the case of Ukraine’s former 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, have been appointed at the Donetsk city court in Russia’s southern Rostov region for July 30.
"Preliminary hearings will take place at 11:00 Moscow time (09:00 GMT) on July 30. The court session will be held behind closed doors, in line with Russian laws," the press service of the Donetsk city court told TASS on Tuesday.
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 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 defence, 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 weere 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."
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 keeps on pleading not guilty.