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Kiev court opens hearings on detained Russians in absence of missing lawyer

March 15, 14:09 UTC+3 KIEV
Yuri Grabovsky’s colleagues have established that the lawyer was in Odessa on March 5 and returned to his Kiev office the following day, after which no one saw him
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Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov

Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov

© EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

KIEV, March 15. /TASS/. A district court in Kiev has resumed hearings on the case of detained Russian nationals Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev in the absence of Alexandrov’s missing lawyer Yuri Grabovsky, a TASS correspondent reports from the court.

Kiev's Goloseevsky district court adjourned on March 9 the hearing into the case of Russian nationals Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev until March 15 due to Grabovsky’s absence from court without any preliminary notification.

Grabovsky’s colleagues have established that the lawyer was in Odessa on March 5 and returned to his Kiev office the following day, after which no one saw him. His personal belongings were found in hotel Arcadia in Odessa while a notice on the lawyer’s behalf was posted on his page in a social network saying he had left the country for security reasons.

The Odessa police and Kiev’s Goloseevsky court have opened a criminal case under the "premeditated murder" article over Grabovsky’s disappearance.

Lawyer for the second detained Russian Oksana Sokolovskaya told TASS on March 10 she was sure that Grabovsky’s disappearance was related to the court’s hearings on the case and that the materials on the defense for the Russian nationals in court had disappeared together with Grabovsky.

The Odessa police said on Friday they had identified the person who had left the last message on Grabovsky’s Facebook page.

"The identity of the person who left a message on the personal Facebook page has been established. According to preliminary information, this was not Grabovsky," the press office of the Odessa Region Main National Police Department told TASS on March 11.

The Odessa police also said Grabovsky had not left the country.

Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were captured by Ukraine’s forces on May 16, 2015, in the Lugansk region, in eastern Ukraine. They are accused of illegal border crossing, illegal possession of arms and involvement in terrorist activity.

Kiev claims the detainees are Russian servicemen. However, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Russians "were not active servicemen of Russia’s Armed Forces at the moment of their detention."

Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev say they are not guilty on any of the charges. According to their lawyers, the two men should be considered prisoners of war as both of them were members of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) when they were detained.

If found guilty in Ukraine, the Russians may be sentenced for life.

The lawyers say the trial should be organized in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

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