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Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian 'Mercenaries' Get Stiff Prison Terms

June 04, 2012

A military court run by Libya's new rulers has handed down stiff prison terms -- including a life sentence -- to a group of Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian men accused of working as mercenaries for former leader Muammar Qaddafi.

The sentences were given in Tripoli to 19 Ukrainians, three Belarusians, and two Russians.

One of the Russians, accused of having been the group's coordinator, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The 23 others each received 10 years.

Ukrainian and Belarusian envoys said the men would appeal.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry described the court decision as "unfair and unjustified." It said Russia would be working with Ukraine and Belarus for a review of the sentence.

The men were accused by Libya's new authorities of having helped renovate military equipment used during the conflict between Qaddafi's forces and NATO-backed opposition fighters last year.

The men said they came to Libya to work in the oil industry.

Based on reporting by Interfax and AFP


Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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