Ukrainians Accused Of Helping Forces Loyal To The “Former Regime” On Trial

Edited by Alexandra Valiente

News emerged on September 5, 2011, that more than 20 Ukrainian nationals had been detained in Libya. All claim to be civilian specialists who came to Libya to work in local oil-industry facilities. The Ukrainians were accused of acting as mercenaries for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Three of these Ukrainians were released from captivity in Libya and returned home in March 2012 due to Ukrainian diplomats’ efforts, and the rest remained in detention.

Trial of Ukrainians in Libya to continue on May 1

The trial of the Ukrainian citizens who were detained in Libya on charges of helping the forces of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi will continue on May 1, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson n Oleksandr Dykusarov has said.

He said that the third court session on the case of the Ukrainians took place in Tripoli on April 16. It was attended by all of the Ukrainian detainees, Ukraine’s ambassador to Libya and the consul.

Dykusarov said that prosecutors again read out the charges against the Ukrainians and asked them whether they agreed with them.

“All Ukrainian citizens denied their guilt and did not agree with the charges” .

He noted that during the meeting, prosecutors asked the court to postpone the consideration of the case due to request additional materials. The lawyers of the detainees also made the same request, explaining their desire by the need to be given more time to study the case materials.

“Thus, the next court hearing on the detained Ukrainians will be held on May 1,” Dykusarov said.

He said that such a long time lag was linked to the fact that according to Libyan practice, court hearings could be held in the first three weeks of the month.

According to the Foreign Ministry, all Ukrainian citizens are in satisfactory condition and representatives of the embassy will visit them on April 17.

News emerged on September 5, 2011, that more than 20 Ukrainian nationals had been detained in Libya. All claim to be civilian specialists who came to Libya to work in local oil-industry facilities. The Ukrainians were accused of acting as mercenaries for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Three of these Ukrainians were released from captivity in Libya and returned home in March 2012 due to Ukrainian diplomats’ efforts, and the rest remained in detention.

There were a number of media reports claiming that the Ukrainians were in fact mercenaries who fought for Muammar Gaddafi and therefore were detained by the insurgents. The Foreign Ministry, however, has denied these reports repeatedly.

The trial of the Ukrainians started in Libya on April 4.  A total of 25 people, including citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, are standing trial in Libya. All of them have been charged with restoring military hardware used by the Muammar Gaddafi regime “to exterminate the Libyan people.”


Justice Libyan-style

Libya’s new authorities have put 2 Russians, 3 Belarusians and 20 Ukrainians on trial on charges of “collaborating with the Gaddafi regime”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the fact that Russia’s relations with new Libyan authorities are good, inspires hope that the Russian citizens will be aquitted. However, some analysts are less optimistic.

In what way did these people “collaborate with the Gaddafi regime”? The charges put against them say that they allegedly repaired military equipment which Gaddafi’s regime used against the rebels.

The court hearings on this case stared on April 4. Before that, Libya’s authorities have assured the Russian Foreign Ministry that these people would not be tried. When the court hearings began, the authorities said that these people would most likely be aquitted. However, at present, there are more grounds to suspect they are very likely to be found guilty or even sentenced to death.

“The Libyan authorities evidently want to make this trial demonstrational,” Russian expert on the Far East Vladimir Morozov believes.

“The trial will most likely be long, and it will be a show for the foreign public. If Libyans make it out between themselves who served which side during the revolution, it is Libya’s internal business. But when foreign citizens are tried for collaborating, this is done with aims other than just punishing the criminals. By starting this show trial, the Libyan authorities obviously want to gain something from Russia, either politically,  economically – or both.”

The accused people, however, do not acknowledge themselves guilty of anything. It is impossible to find any evidence of their “collaboration” with the former regime. The majority of the accused started work in Libya long before the revolution. They were officially invited by the former legitimate government and had official contracts with this government. It is not their crime that during their stay in Libya a change of power took place and that people who were the country’s official leaders are now considered criminals.

Evgeny Satanovsky says:

“Thousands of foreigners worked in Libya under the Gaddafi regime – Russians, Ukrainians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Poles and many others. They worked as doctors or nurses, military instructors, at Libyan oil-extracting facilities, they assembled all kinds of equipment, they taught and trained Libyans. They were officially invited by the Libyan authorities and had official contracts. Is it possible to call all of them collaborators? Gaddafi had a personal nurse who was a Ukrainian citizen. Was she also a collaborator?”

The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes to persuade the Libyan authorities to free the Russian citizens. Russian diplomats are cooperating with their Ukrainian and Belarusian colleagues, who have experience negotiating with the NTC concerning freeing their citizens from the “new Libyan justice”.


Russians accused of assisting Kaddafi regime face trial in Tripoli

Twenty seven Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are facing trial in Libya. They are charged with supporting Muammar Gaddafi during the civil war by providing his forces with “surface to air” missiles aimed at NATO airplanes.

The Russian foreign ministry stated,

“On April 4, the Tripoli court started the trial against Russian citizens Dolgov, Sadrov, as well as some Ukrainian and Belarus nationals, who were detained in August 2011. They were all charged with “the restoration of military equipment that was allegedly used by Kaddafi’s forces ‘to destroy the Libyan people’,” the Foreign Ministry replied.

The detention conditions of those charged have worsened dramatically in March after the rebel “Al-Kakaa” battalion changed their location. Russian diplomats have visited their countrymen, giving them food and clothes as well as providing them with medical assistance. The Foreign Ministry demands that the detention conditions be improved and they want the immediate release of the Russian citizens. “The Libyans insist that their destiny must be decided by the court”.

The Libyan authorities said that the detainees are suspected of launching missiles. “They are charged with helping prepare the launches of “surface to air” missiles, whose aim was to shoot down NATO planes which were conducting a UN-approved mission to defend civilians,” quoting Ali Sheikhm,  the Libyan Army’s General Headquarters spokesman.

Another charge against the detainees is their assistance of Kaddafi’s regime by suppressing the revolution and attacking civilians. “These people are seen as mercenaries of the former regime,” Ali Sheikh said. According to him, the accused arrived in Libya “without informing their governments and without having their support.” The defendants denied all allegations.

One of the accused, Russian Alxander Shadrov, told BBC that he found out about some of the allegations only on Monday, during the trial.

In a telephone conversation with the BBC Russian service, Shadrov said that four unpaid Libyan lawyers, appointed by the judge, would defend the detainees.

“Today a Russian embassy worker came and said that one lawyer’s services cost some 200, 000. Libyan dinars (some $160 thousand). He said they did not have such money,” Shadrov said.

He and his cellmates claim they were employed by the “Dakar” Russian-Libyan company and arrived in Libya during military actions between Kaddafi’s supporters and enemies to service oil mining equipment.

Media access to the trial is limited. “Our reporter was unable to enter the court hall because it is located in a military base,” Michael Kazens from the local Libya Herald said.

Stanislav Selivanov, from the Ukrainian human rights organization “Pravozashita,” says the prisoners from the CIS are suffering from health problems.

“The detention conditions of our nationals do not conform to health standards signed in international conventions. They are not let out and are held in closed, hot rooms, which led to the exacerbation of chronic illnesses. Many of them are having psychological breakdowns,” Selivanov said.


Also See:
US-NATO War Crimes: Open Letter From Citizens Of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia Working And Living In Libya
Russia Seeks Return of Hostages Held in Libya

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