Savchenko found guilty, sentenced to 22 years in prison (1)

Nadiya Savchenko in Russian courtroom in Rostov on the day of her sentencing, March 22, 2016. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters/Scanpix)
3/22/2016 6:23 PM
Category: News

Ukrainian air force pilot and Verkhovna Rada deputy Nadiya Savchenko was found guilty of all charges filed against her and sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison by the Donetsk City Court in Rostov Oblast, Russia, today.

The courts announced Savchenko’s sentence after a recess today, reported the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN).

Savchenko has been sentenced to a total of 22 years imprisonment in a general regime Russian penal colony. In addition to the prison time, Savchenko was fined 30,000 roubles (approximately €395, or $445 in American dollars) “for illegally crossing the Russian border”.

The Ukrainian pilot was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for complicity in the death of the Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshi in the Luhansk region on June 17, 2014, and to another 10 years for complicity in the attempted killings of additional civilians during the same incident.

The sentence will be considered to have begun being served on June 30, 2014.

Savchenko has already previously stated that she does not intend to appeal the decision, as she asserted that this was not justice, but rather the predetermined result of a farce trial. The Ukrainian pilot has also stressed that the Russian court system has no right whatsoever to prosecute her.

Court had "no doubt" over Savchenko's guilt

The moment the court announced that she would be sentenced to time in prison, Savchenko began to sing a song popular during the Euromaidan, “Gorela shina” ("Горела шина"), from her bench in the courtroom, causing a recess to be called before the reading of the pilot’s official sentence.

The courts noted in their decision that there remained “no doubt that Savchenko is guilty of the charges filed against her”. The repeatedly noted fact that Savchenko had already been captured by pro-Kremlin fighters by the time the Russian journalists died had no effect on their conviction.

Senior Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko, a Mi-24 helicopter pilot in the Ukrainian Air Force, fell into the hands of pro-Kremlin separatist rebels near Luhansk, in Eastern Ukraine, on June 17 of last year, and was later transported illegally over the border into Russian territory.

According to the Investigative Committee of Russia, Savchenko crossed the border into Russian territory with forged documents, claiming to be an immigrant, and was thereafter arrested.

Russian authorities have accused Savchenko of being involved as an artillery spotter in the deaths of Russian television's Rossija-1 journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshi in the Luhansk region on June 17. The pilot’s lawyers claimed that, at the time of their deaths, Savchenko had already been imprisoned.

Both Savchenko herself and Ukrainian leaders have denied all allegations from the Kremlin. Both the imprisonment and the trial of the Ukrainian pilot have been criticized by many Western nations as well as international organizations, whose representatives have called on Russia to free Savchenko.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin wrote on Twitter, "The result is an expected one, but all the same it's pretty painful... The 'sentence' is not the end of struggle. It's the beginning of a new stage in the fight for Savchenko."

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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