Defense lawyers appeal prolongation of arrest of 24 sailors detained in Kerch Strait
Lawyers have asked the Moscow City Court to release the 24 Ukrainians who were arrested after the incident in the Kerch Strait area in fall 2018.
"In their appeals, the lawyers said the Russian court had failed to give a proper evaluation to the PACE resolution according to which the sailors should be subject to the norms of international law, including the Geneva conventions, and also the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to which the sailors have POW status until a relevant tribunal makes a different decision," Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer and coordinator of the sailors' defense team, wrote on a social network.
Polozov additionally said that the defense lawyers had appealed the court's refusal to send the cases of the sailors, who consider themselves POWs, to a military court.
The Moscow Lefortovsky District Court on April 17 prolonged the arrest of all detained sailors until July 24 and July 26.
The court hearings were held behind closed doors at the request of the prosecutors "to keep the legally protected secrecy of preliminary investigation."
On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards used weapons to stop three Ukrainian naval vessels, the Yany Kapu tug and the Berdyansk and the Nikopol armored gunboats, which were traveling from Odesa to Mariupol in the Kerch Strait. The vessels were escorted to Kerch.
The 24 Ukrainians who were aboard, including two officials from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), were charged with "conspiracy by a group of persons or an organized group to illegally cross the border using violence or the threat to use violence."