The U.S. Department of Justice will waive the death penalty The Craig Lang case, An army veteran who fought with a right-wing paramilitary unit in Ukraine, the authorities have accused him of killing a married couple in southwest Florida in April 2018.
US officials and experts studying far-right extremism are paying close attention to the case, and they are increasingly worried that the Americans will go to Ukraine to train and gain combat experience with far-right armed groups.
At a state hearing held on Monday through Zoom in Myers, the Assistant Attorney for the Central District of Florida, Jesus Casas, told the court that the government has decided to abandon the death penalty in order to expedite the transfer from Kiev (Kyiv) The act of extradition Lang (Kyiv). Live in limited house arrest.
Ukraine is very sensitive to the issue of the death penalty, which was abolished in 2000. Lang and his lawyer participated in the trial of the European Court of Human Rights, which ordered the suspension of Lang’s extradition until it could review his case. An ECHR spokesperson did not disclose when the review will be completed.
At a hearing on Monday, Casas said that the US government will still sentence Lang’s accomplice, Alex Zwiefelhofer, to death. The latter is an Army veteran who also Fight with far-right extremists in eastern Ukraine, who have been detained in the United States since 2019.
Lang, 30 and 23-year-old Zwiefelhofer are accused of using false characters to induce Serafin “Danny” Lorenzo and Deana Lorenzo to attend a night meeting held in a commercial center in the town of Estero. The couple hoped to buy guns from there. Resell them for huge profits. Instead, Lang and Zwiefelhofer allegedly shot and killed Lorenzos in a dramatic scene attack, Let them die, and stole $3,000.
The authorities said that after killing the couple, the former soldiers planned to use the money to flee to South America on a yacht, where they wanted to “participate in the armed conflict against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” and kill “communists”. However, the escape did not proceed as planned, and Zwiefelhofer was later arrested in his hometown of Wisconsin and transferred to Florida, where he awaited trial in December.Lang managed to return to Ukraine but was eventually detained Published by the Ukrainian authorities in August 2019, After returning to Moldova from a short trip. The border guard stopped him after seeing that Interpol had issued an arrest warrant.
Dmytro Morhun, Lang’s chief lawyer in Ukraine, declined to comment on Monday’s new developments in a text message.
A relative of Lorenzos told BuzzFeed News on Monday that they are satisfied with the development. In April, relatives who requested anonymity for security reasons said that they did not want Lang to be sentenced to death. They just want him to return to Florida for trial. Relatives said: “We just want him to pay.”
The lawyer appointed by the U.S. court for Lang, Bjorn Brunvand, told Judge Sheri Polster Chappell that he “inquired” about Lang’s possible extradition. But it is still unknown when Lang will be detained by the United States.
Given the uncertainty of Lang’s identity, Casas told Judge Chappell that the government is following the Zwiefelhofer case in a different way.
Government lawyers Lang and Zwiefelhofer agreed that the pandemic has slowed their progress in gathering what they need to prepare for the trial. Zwiefelhofer’s lawyer D. Todd Doss said he needs more time to meet with witnesses and collect documents for his client’s defense.
Lang and Zwiefelhofer met in Ukraine for the first time and joined the right-wing extremist organization Right Sector in 2016.Notorious Neo-Nazi membership and alleged human rights violationsIt originated from the alliance of right-wing militant organizations formed during the Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine in 2014. After Russia annexed Crimea and launched a war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the Right Sector was later renamed as a volunteer combat camp.
Other Americans fighting in Ukraine Tell BuzzFeed News In an interview, during Lang and Zwiefelhofer’s stay in the country, the views and behaviors of the extreme right became more and more radical.
The two left Ukraine in 2017 after the fighting eased, and then tried their luck in South Sudan. They never did. Instead, they were detained and deported back to the United States. The authorities claimed that they would eventually regroup and plan an attack on the Lorenzos to fund more foreign combat adventures.
Since then, Lang has been in detention or some form of house arrest in Ukraine. He currently lives in Kiev with his fiance and their fiance and must wear an ankle monitor. He said at a court hearing attended by BuzzFeed News in February that he taught English courses for Ukrainians online to support his family.
Lang claimed in the same hearing that the US government also hopes to prosecute him for suspected war crimes committed on the battlefield in Ukraine.
He told the Ukrainian court: “Any separatist or Russian soldier I kill is a crime of murder.” “Understanding any soldier I might capture is a crime of kidnapping.”