By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 16 July 2014:
The Ukrainian government has protested the death on Monday in Zintani detention of a Ukrainian national . . .[restrict]arrested in August 2011, accused of being a mercenary.
Anatoli Kozlow, 64 is reported to have died of “respiratory problems”. He was one of 19 Ukrainians accused of working on Gaddafi’s missiles during the revolution. Tried and convicted in June 2012 by a military court and sentenced to ten years, all the convictions were overturned last August and a retrial ordered in a civilian court. This trial has been postponed repeatedly, in the main because of security concerns.
A number of the imprisoned Ukrainians is reportedly aged over 60 and in poor health. The authorities in Kiev have made repeated appeals to the government and the General National Congress as well as judicial authorities, requesting that the legal process be expedited or that releases be considered on compassionate grounds.
The Ukrainian prisoners have always maintained that they were oilfield engineers and not mercenaries as Libyan prosecutors have alleged. They claimed that they had been recruited under false pretences and once they arrived in Libya at the start of the revolution, they had been forced to work on missile systems. Three Belarusians and two Russians who were in their party are also still held by the Zintanis. One of the Russians, who was said to be the leader of the group, was given a life sentence, while his compatriot and the Belarusians were also sentenced to ten years at the 2012 military trial. Those convictions have likewise been overturned and retrials ordered.
The men have been moved on a number of occasions between confinement in Zintan and Tripoli. Kozlow’s death on Monday occurred after the latest transfer from a prison, thought to be near the airport road, back to Zintan, which was made at the weekend as fighting raged around Tripoli airport.
According to the Ukrainian foreign ministry, Kozlow was taken ill and rushed to a local hospital where he died. The ministry also said: “The Libyan court possesses evidence proving the Ukrainians found their way to Libya as a result of fraudulent actions by a citizen of the Russian Federation, who hired them under the pretence of working for a Russia-Libya oil producing company”.