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Avakov says ready to testify in Italian court
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said he is ready to give testimony in an Italian court in defense of Ukrainian National Guard serviceman Vitaliy Markiv who was arrested in Italy.
"We believe that this was the absolutely unmotivated detention of soldier Markiv, who was accused by an Italian journalist, that he heard in a conversation with him that he killed journalist Rocchelli. Another Italian journalist says 'no, he thought he heard, he did not say so.' On this basis, our soldier has been kept in prison for four months," Avakov said on the Right to Power program on the 1+1 TV channel in the early hours of Friday.
He recalled that he had sent an official note to the Italian foreign minister, describing in detail all the circumstances of the case.
"I think that this issue has long gone beyond the legal framework," he added.
When asked whether the Interior Ministry supports Markiv in his right to defense, Avakov said: "I met with a defense lawyer. This is a very qualified specialist, one of the best in Italy, and the defense team will get everything it needs, including the testimony of the minister, who was in Sloviansk at that time. I was in Sloviansk at that time... I will provide testimony in court just like any other guardsmen."
As reported, Ukrainian serviceman Markiv was detained in Italy on June 30, 2017 on suspicion of killing Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near Sloviansk, Donetsk region, in May 2014. The Ukrainian is in the Italian city of Pavia.
The first hearing of the case was held on July 4, however the consular service of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said the court did not review the facts of the case and did not rule on pretrial confinement. Ukrainian diplomats visited Markiv in a pretrial holding facility in Milan.
Ukraine's Interior Ministry, meanwhile, reported Ukrainian representatives were not present at court proceedings on July 4.
Media reported that Pavia prosecutors have opened a criminal case into the circumstances of the death of an Italian and Russian journalist during 2014 in the Anti-terrorist (ATO) zone based on testimony from a French journalist. The French journalist said shelling by National Guard unit, in which Markiv served, caused the deaths of the journalists. The French journalist provided what he claimed was video evidence of his claim.
Deputy Head of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine Yevhen Yenin, in turn, said the Italian photojournalist was killed in an area not under control of Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine's consulate in Milan has filed a motion with the Pavia court to receive information about the basis and circumstances involving Markiv's arrest. Ukraine's Interior Ministry has expressed concern about the arrest of Markiv, who traveled to Italy during planned leave.