Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian national who fought for Russia-led separatists in the Donbas between 2014-2015, is set to appear in court on October 6. On August 21, the Pavlograd City District Court of Dnipropetrovsk region, which has been dealing with Lusvarghi’s case, failed to go ahead with the hearing for the fourth time in a row. This time, due to the defendant’s side not having the right documents for the case. Until October 6, the Brazilian will stay in a pre-trial detention center.
Photo credit: Ihor Shevchuk/HROMADSKE
This is not only the fourth attempt at a court hearing, but also the third time Lusvarghi’s detention has been extended since the beginning of May when he was captured by Ukrainian nationalist group C14 and taken to Ukraine’s State Security (SBU) building. The first three hearings did not go ahead due to Lusvarghi’s lawyer Valentyn Rybin having other work commitments.
Prosecutor Ihor Vovk explained the extension of Lusvarghi’s detention with the fact that the Brazilian doesn’t have a “permanent residence, registration or regular income in Ukraine” and that having Brazilian citizenship makes him more likely to flee the country in attempt to evade arrest.
Lusvarghi is the first non-Russian foreigner to be prosecuted in Ukraine for taking part in the war in Donbas. According to the prosecution, he arrived in Ukraine in September 2014, and until October 2015 took part in military actions on separatists’ side. He was first detained by the SBU in October 2016 at Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport and charged with being a member of a terrorist organization and illegal armed groups. He was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and confiscation of his property.
However, as the case was being heard in the wrong court territorially, the 13-year sentence was dropped. Lusvarghi’s case will now be studied anew – including all the written and material evidence, video recordings and questioning the witnesses and Lusvarghi himself – while the charges stay the same.
Photo credit: Volodymyr Hontar/UNIAN
Lusvarghi’s lawyer, Valentyn Rybin is skeptical about the evidence gathered by the prosecution and questions the legality of obtaining them.
“The charges are practically based on video materials from the internet and, since my client came to Kyiv from Brazil and at the moment of detention did not take part in any illegal armed groups or any kind of terrorist organization, I think that after studying all the written evidence, the video materials need to be looked at as part of the documents,” Rybin said.
“The case also contains materials of my client’s correspondence with commercial institutions, as well as protocols on the results of secret investigative actions, which should be combined with the relevant motions and orders to understand the legality of obtaining the relevant evidence.”
/By Ihor Shevchuk and Maria Romanenko