Libya jails foreign mercenaries for helping Gaddafi

June 4th, 2012 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, June 4 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A Libyan military court Monday handed long prison terms to a group of Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians accused of serving as mercenaries for slain leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The sentences were given in Tripoli to 19 Ukrainians, three Belarusians and two Russians.

Libya’s new authorities charged the group with having helped renovate military equipment used during the conflict between Gaddafi’s forces and NATO-backed opposition fighters last year.

The court found those convicted guilty of aiding the Libyan army, including preparing surface-to-air missiles intended against NATO aircraft.

The 24 men, who all denied the charges, insisted they were in Libya to work in its oil sector.

One Russian charged with assisting Gaddafi and coordinating the actions of the rest of the group got a life sentence.

The other Russian was sentenced to 10 years in a Libyan prison, the Russian embassy said.

The embassy will soon challenge these sentences, said spokesman Ilya Samunin.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry confirmed that the country’s 19 citizens were jailed for 10 years.

Three Belarusians got the same sentences for assisting the Gaddafi regime.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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