Tripoli, April 6
Contrary to reports put out earlier this week by the press in Ukraine that some 23 of its citizens . . .[restrict]accused of being Qaddafi mercenaries had been acquitted, it has now been announced by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that military court proceedings were started against them in Tripoli on Thursday.
There has been no confirmation from the Libyan Justice Ministry.
According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, the men have pleaded not guilty in opening proceedings to charges of aiding the Qaddafi regime by repairing military equipment. The accused, the ministry reported, denied this saying they came to Libya to work at oil facilities. The ministry also said that its diplomats were being allowed to attend the trial which would resume next week.
There has been some confusion over the number of Ukrainians held. In August, it was reported that 22 Ukrainians as well as three Byelorussians and two Russians had been captured. More recently, it was said that 23 Ukrainians were being held, then that three had been released, including a women, then that 23 were being held. Now the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry says that 20 have been charged.
In March, Russian Foreign ministry official Konstantin Dolgov admitted that two Russians, named as Vladimir Dolgov and Alexandr Shadrov, had been held “illegally” in Libya, accused of repairing tanks for Qaddafi troops. “We consider this situation unacceptable”, he said at the time. “It must be resolved with the constructive participation of Libyan authorities.”
The Byelorussian authorities deny that any of their citizens were ever part of Qaddafi’s forces.