Supreme Court Upholds 20-Year Sentence For Czech Man Fighting For Donbass Separatists
Supreme court judges rejected Martin Kantor’s appeal against his sentence. Credit: Freepik.
Brno, Aug 10 (CTK) – The Supreme Court has confirmed the 20-year prison sentence for Martin Kantor, for fighting in the ranks of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Adam Wenig, the spokesman for the Prague Municipal Court, told journalists today.
Kantor was sentenced in absentia and the Czech police are still searching for him.
The Prague Municipal Court was the first instance court in the case. It ruled that Kantor was guilty of a terrorist act and participation in a terrorist group. His appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected, Wenig said.
According to the ruling, Kantor went from Prague to Russia by plane in July 2015. From Russia, he went to eastern Ukraine and illegally entered the Donbass region, in order to support the separatists in the armed conflict against Ukraine’s government.
After his arrival in Donbass, Kantor signed a one-year contract to serve in the army of the New Russia, formed by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, and was trained as a sniper. He then took part in combat operations. He received the rank of sergeant and became a commander of a unit in September 2016, in which his role was to lay mines and hand-grenade traps.
Kantor’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Witnesses said in court that he made no secret of wanting to join the pro-Russian separatists. They also said he liked weapons and wanted to learn Russian. Kantor later communicated with them via Skype, sent them photos of himself in uniform, and said he had undergone military training.
Kantor’s defence lawyer was pushing for his acquittal. He denied that Kantor had actually taken part in fighting within military structures. The lawyer also questioned the trustworthiness of Kantor’s communication with his friends, and said the man had fabricated a lot to make an interesting impression.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions are the easternmost part of Ukraine. Before the conflict erupted there in 2014, 6.6 million people lived in these two regions. Fighting broke out after the fall of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces, claiming thousands of lives since then.
Since the Russian military invaded Ukraine in February, separatists have been fighting alongside them.