Ukrainian pilot found guilty of two scribes' murder

A Russian court convicted pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who denies all charges, for killing two journalists in war-torn east Ukraine

Donetsk: A court in southern Russia yesterday found Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko guilty of murder over the killing of two Russian journalists in war-torn east Ukraine, at a trial condemned by Kiev and the West as a political sham.

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko reacts inside a defendants’ cage at a court in Russian. Pic/AFP

Savchenko “committed the premeditated murder as part of a group of people from the motives of hatred and enmity,” a judge in the town of Donetsk said.

The verdict said Savchenko — who denies all the charges — was motivated by hatred towards “Russian-speaking people”.

Prosecutors are demanding 23 years in jail for the 34-year-old combat helicopter pilot — who was serving in a pro-Kiev volunteer battalion fighting pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine — with sentencing set to last until today.

Savchenko was also found guilty on a charge of illegally crossing the border into Russia. Savchenko insists she was kidnapped by pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 and illegally smuggled over the border into Russia before being slapped with false charges.

Ukraine and its Western allies insist Savchenko is the latest pawn in the Kremlin’s broader aggression against its ex-Soviet neighbour that saw Moscow seize the Crimea peninsula and fuel a separatist insurgency.

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