Ukrainian pilot Savchenko sentenced to 22 years in Russian prison

Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, the most famous prisoner of the Ukraine conflict, was sentenced on Tuesday to 22 years in Russian prison for murder.

Savchenko, 34, was accused of giving Ukrainian national forces the coordinates for an attack in which two Russian journalists were killed.

She was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and illegally crossing the Russian border during the conflict over Ukraine's two eastern-most regions, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

The court, in the southern Russian town of Donetsk near the Ukrainian border, said Savchenko's prison term includes the nearly two years that she has been in Russian custody.

After Savchenko was taken into Russian custody in mid-2014, Ukraine appointed her as a member of its delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, giving her diplomatic immunity.

However, the Russian prosecutor argued that the immunity is not applicable to the case because the appointment was made after the alleged crime.

In early 2014, a pro-Russian separatist rebellion erupted in eastern Ukraine after the country ousted its pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West.

More than 9,000 people have died in the conflict between the separatists and the Ukrainian military, according to estimates by the United Nations.

Kiev and many Western powers accuse Moscow of fuelling the conflict with supplies of weapons and troops for the separatists. Moscow has adamantly denied such claims.

Last update: Tue, 22/03/2016 - 16:05

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