Tripoli, April 9
A spokesman for the Army confirmed that 20 Ukraine nationals were put on trial today before a Libyan military . . .[restrict]court on charges of working as mercenaries for the former Gaddafi’s regime. The spokesman for the General Staff office of the Libyan National Army, Colonel Ali Sheikhi, said that charges were brought against them during the first hearing held last Wednesday.
He added that amongst the crimes they are being charged with are the setting-up of surface-to-air missile launching platforms to target the international coalition aircraft which were implementing the UN Resolution 1973 for the protection Libyan civilians during the military campaign waged by NATO.
He added that other charges made against them related to assisting the toppled regime quell the revolution and attack Libyan civilians through their work as mercenaries for Qaddafi and his brigades. He said that most of the defendants are ex-military experts who had worked in Qaddafi’s brigades before. He claimed that some of them had retired but were called upon again after the start of the February 17 revolution. He said that during preliminary investigations they confessed they had come to Libya without the prior knowledge or support of their own countries, pointing out that they were being treated as mercenaries of the former regime until investigations revealed otherwise.
He said that in addition to the 20 defendants holding Ukrainian citizenship, two others were Belarus nationals and two held Russian nationality. A spokesman of the Ukraine Foreign Affairs, Oleksandr Dykusarov said after the closed session held on April 5 that the defendants had denied all charges and maintained that they came to Libya to work in the oil sector.
The defendants were arrested between the end of August and early September. Ukraine had strong economic ties with the old Libyan regime and when the conflict started in mid-February, it is estimated there were about 1,500 Ukrainian in Libya. Some were in the medical field, among them were nurses working for Qaddafi himself.