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Ukrainian ex-pilot says captured before attack on militia positions

September 29, 2015, 15:28 UTC+3 DONETSK
The shelling was 3-5 km from the scene where Nadezhda Savchenko, who is accused of allegedly reporting the data to mortar-equipped personnel who opened fire on the crew and the civilians, was captured
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Journalists watching former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko (on the screen) trial

Journalists watching former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko (on the screen) trial

© Valery Matytsin/TASS

DONETSK/Rostov region/. September 29. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian military pilot Nadezhda Savchenko told the southern Russian court on Tuesday she could not have been the artillery gunner during the attack on the Luhansk militias as she had been taken captive before that, her lawyer Ilya Novikov has said.

"Savchenko knew where the ambush was. She was captured before reaching the area where the alleged ambush was. The shelling on the reporters was some three or five kilometers from the scene where she was captured," the lawyer said.

Savchenko said on June 17, 2014, when the Russian journalists were killed, she was taken in a car "with a sack over her head.""I was wearing a camouflage uniform. I had no body armor, I had a knife, a rifle, ammunition, two radio stations and two mobile phones," she said.

The Ukrainian said she knew that the Russian journalists died while being captive.

Earlier in the day, Savchenko said she served as an operator of the Mi-24 helicopter and was tasked with performing calculations of flight courses and directions and aiming at the target. Savchenko insisted that she never underwent any special training.

Speaking on the citizens of the war-torn Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, Savchenko said she never felt hatred towards them. "I never treat anyone with aggression," she said.

The Ukrainian said she took the decision to join Kiev’s military operation in Donbass independently.

Savchenko, 34, is charged with complicity in the murder of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine last summer. Savchenko also stands charged with attempted murder of civilians who could suffer as a result of artillery fire and illegally crossing the Russian border.

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

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

If found guilty, Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison.

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