Wednesday 06 July 2022

Dutch court frees two Ukrainian suspects so they can go home to fight

A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman

A court in Breda has ruled that two Ukrainian nationals, currently on remand on people-smuggling charges, can be released to go back to their home country to fight against the Russian invaders.

The two men, aged 27 and 29, come from Lutsk in north western Ukraine and have been in custody for six months. They were arrested on a yacht last September, trying to bring a group of Albanian nationals into Britain, broadcaster NOS reported.

Human smuggling carries a maximum sentence of 18 years.

Their lawyer petitioned the court to release the men so they can go back to their home country to fight.

The court ruled that there are extraordinary, serious circumstances which justify lifting the remand order, in particular the Ukrainian government’s call for people to defend their country.

The two suspects are ‘insistent they wish to follow that call’, the court said. In addition, the court said, it is important that they are with their family in Ukraine at this time.

The court did say that the two suspects should report back to the Dutch authorities again if ordered to do so and that they must agree to sit out any sentence once their trial has been held. In addition, they should refrain from committing any crimes while their remand has been lifted.

Asked what guarantees the court had that the men would serve any eventual sentence, court spokeswoman Carine Marsé told NOS they would then be arrested if they tried to enter the Netherlands again.

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