Ukrainian citizen Zakhtei sentenced to 6.5 years in Crimea for preparing acts of sabotage

The Supreme Court of Crimea on Friday found Ukrainian citizen Andriy Zakhtei guilty of preparing acts of sabotage on the peninsula in 2016 and sentenced him to six- and-a-half years in a high-security penal colony, an Interfax correspondent reported from the courtroom.

Zakhtei "is sentenced to 6.5 years in a high-security penal colony," Judge Sergei Pogrebnyak said.

The court counted the more than 1.5 years that the Ukrainian has already been in custody towards his term.

Zakhtei, 42, was tried in accordance with special procedures and behind closed doors. Journalists were only present when the sentence was read.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that it had averted attempts by groups of saboteurs and terrorists to break through from Ukraine to Crimea on August 7-8, 2016. A Russian military serviceman and an FSB official were killed and several Ukrainians, including Zakhtei, were detained.

Three kilograms of explosives and grenades were found in a spare wheel in Zakhtei's car, according to the FSB.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied that the people detained in Crimea were Ukrainian agents.

Zakhtei's relatives said he was an ordinary taxi driver working on the peninsula.

At first the Ukrainian said through his lawyers that he was tortured with electric shocks to force him to say he was guilty. In summer 2017, he made a deal with the investigators and refused the services of hired lawyers.

The court found the Ukrainian guilty of "preparing for sabotage by an organized group or leading to grave consequences," "illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or possession of explosive substances or explosive devices by an organized group," "acquisition or sale of official documents and state awards," and "deliberate use of a forged document."

Zakhtei, a native of Lviv region of Ukraine, had lived in Saki, Crimea for the past few years.