KIEV, April 10 - RAPSI, Alyona Meita. The Supreme Military Court of Libya has postponed until May 1 an appeal against the ruling issued by the Tripoli Military Court in June 2012 to sentence 19 Ukrainians to ten years in prison, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
The Ukrainians, along with two Russians and three Belarusians, were arrested in autumn 2011 by the National Transitional Council forces on suspicion of aiding Muammar Gaddafi's regime. One of the Russians accused of coordinating the group has been sentenced to life imprisonment, the others to ten years of penal labor. The Ukrainians' attorneys filed an appeal against the sentence shortly after the sentences were handed down.
However, according to the ministry report, the court only began processing the appeal on April 10.
"A procedural hearing was held today, where the judicial panel approved the three defense attorneys who will represent the Ukrainians and read the lower court's verdict to the parties. The hearing of the case will begin on May 1," the Ukrainian ministry said.
In early February 2011, mass protests broke out in Libya demanding the resignation of Muammar Ghaddafi, who was in power for over 40 years. Eventually, they escalated into an armed tug-of-war between the ruling regime and the NATO-backed opposition forces. The opposition formed the Transitional National Council in Benghazi and called it the only legitimate authority in the country. Ghaddafi was killed by the opposition troops near Sirte on October 20.