Ukraine Live Day 612: Court Rejects Defence Request To Cross Examine Medical Witnesses In Savchenko Trial

October 22, 2015
Nadezhda Savchenko in court on October 22. Photo: Yevgeny Feldman

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Court Rejects Defence Request To Cross Examine Medical Witnesses In Savchenko Trial

The court in the Russian border town of Donetsk, where Nadezhda Savchenko is on trial, has dismissed defence requests for two prosecution witnesses to be called for cross-examination.

The witnesses in question are two doctors from Lugansk, Ukraine, who recorded the deaths of the Russian state television journalists Savchenko is accused of killing.

The defence had sought to question medical staff from hospital no.7 in Lugansk. 

Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Yug, that defence lawyer Ilya Novikov said during the hearing that the statements provided by the witnesses were written in a strikingly similar manner, “as if they were carbon copies.”

Nikolai Polozov, another of Savchenko’s lawyers, tweeted:

Translation: The Lugansk doctors were not allowed to appear in the Savchenko trial for precisely one reason: so that the defence could not put forward questions on the number of wounded and dead militants

Savchenko in court today

Novaya Gazeta‘s Yevgeny Feldman reports that Novikov told him that Savchenko has threatened to resume her hunger strike if the court removes her from hearings in the chamber for any reason.

Furthermore, the lawyer said, she may also resume her hunger strike after sentencing. 

Vera Savchenko, Nadezhda’s sister, said last night that her sister did indeed intend to go on hunger strike, saying that it was her only weapon with which to fight the Russian authorities.

Vera herself was barred from entering Russia until 2020 on October 13. 

Today, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which has responsibility for border control, told the court that the agency had no knowledge of the entry ban.

Nadezhda Savchenko was a military officer fighting with the Aidar battalion in the Lugansk region last summer when she was captured by separatist militants. A video of her interrogation was posted online. She was then illegally transported to Russia, where she was charged with the murder of the two journalists. She and her defence argue that she was already in captivity at the time of the attack. Furthermore, as a Ukrainian MP (she was elected on the Batkivshchyna party list while on trial), she has, the defence argues, diplomatic immunity as a member of the Parliamentary Council of Europe.

— Pierre Vaux