A court in Genoa, Italy, has given prison sentences to three mercenaries who fought against Ukraine in the Donbas, the local news outlet La Stampa reports.
Antonio Cataldo (35, from Nola, Naples) was given 2 years 8 months; Olsi Krutani (39, an Albanian who relocated to Milan a long time ago) was also given 2 years 8 months; and Vladimir Verbitchii (26, a Moldovan who has lived in Parma for many years) was given 1 year 4 months in prison.
The three were found guilty of unsanctioned recruitment or unsanctioned combat action in the interests of a foreign state. Information about the convicted mercenaries was provided to the Italian law enforcement by the Ukrainian embassy.
Another three suspects in this case are wanted, and are probably still in the Donbas. They are Andrea Palmeri, the “brains” of the organization, Gabriele “Archangel” Carugati, a former shopping center security guard from Lombardy, and Massimiliano “Spartacus” Cavalleri.
The court proved that all three had received financial compensation in one way or another for serving in the ranks of the terrorists in eastern Ukraine.
The case investigation began after material evidence was discovered when a group of neo-fascists in La Spezia were searched. News that the Italian police had uncovered a criminal organization came out in August 2018.
The mercenaries had published a video which made it possible to identify one of the accused – Vladimir Verbitchii. He went to fight in May 2015, joining the ranks of the “Rusich” group. For the first two months in the Donbas, he didn’t show his face, but later he stopped hiding. In the video that the militants uploaded to YouTube, one can see him being taught to correct artillery fire. Verbitchii tells the camera that he is 21 years old, and that although he grew up in Italy, where his parents had moved to from Moldova, he considers himself a Russian.
Olsi Krutani is a Chechnya veteran, owner of a gym in Milan, and avid proponent of Russian martial arts. It was during such sport events that the recruitment of mercenaries for the Donbas was discussed, writes the Italian news outlet OttoPagine.
The third convict, Antonio Cataldo, acted as an intermediary between those who wanted to get to Ukraine and those who were already fighting in the Donbas. He is considered an experienced mercenary, since he fought in Libya and was imprisoned by Gaddafi’s militants. He underwent military training in Panama.
Next week, a court in Pavia will announce its verdict on the former Ukrainian National Guard officer Vitalii Markiv, who is charged with the premeditated murder of the Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli near Sloviansk in 2014. The prosecution has requested that he be sentenced to 17 years in prison.