Vinnytsia Court of Appeal on Oct. 8Â arrested Craig Lang, the United States national who fought on the Ukrainian side in Russiaâs war in the Donbas, the courtâs press service reported.
Lang, 29, was arrested in the courtroom. The prosecutors sought his arrest following the extradition warrant from the U.S. where Lang is being charged with double homicide and robbery. He denies the charges.
By the Ukrainian law, he may face up to 15 years in jail or even be imprisoned for life, the courtâs press service said. In Florida, where he allegedly participated in the murder, he may face a death sentence.
Lang was arrested on Aug. 21 by Ukrainian border guards after entering Ukrainian territory from Moldova to renew his duration of stay in Ukraine. Initially, he spent 40 days in a detention center in Vinnytsia. On Sept. 29, a court in Vinnytsia put him under house arrest.
A native of North Carolina, Lang served in the U.S. army in 2008-2014 but was discharged after going AWOL.
In 2015-2016, he served on Ukraineâs side in Russiaâs war against Ukraine initially at the nationalist Right Sector volunteer battalion and later at the Georgian Legion, a volunteer battalion formed by Georgian nationals that incorporated other foreigners. In 2016, the Georgian Legion became part of the regular armed forces of the 54th brigade.
In April 2018 Lang along with another U.S. army veteran Alex Zwiefelhofer allegedly robbed in shot dead a couple in Florida, the complaint published by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida shows. They robbed the couple to travel to Venezuela and join the resistance group to fight against the Venezuelan government, the complaint said.
In 2017, Lang also traveled to Kenya to fight against Al Shabaab, an armed group linked to Al-Qaeda, the complaint said.
Several U.S. media reported that Lang was linked to the American white supremacist groups.
But Mamuka Mamulashvili, head of the Georgian Legion, said Lang was a âgood soldierâ and was checked by the police and SBU, the state security service, before being accepted to Ukraineâs army.
âAs far as I know he had combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, heâs a very experienced soldier,â he said.
Mamulashvili added that he didn’t notice any signs of racism being expressed by Lang.
Igor Skritsky, Langâs friend and military chaplain, who was present at the court hearings in his case, said that Lang denied any charges. He added that Lang was planning to marry his Ukrainian girlfriend and traveled to Moldova to fix his permit to stay and make this marriage possible.
Skritsky said that at one of the previous court hearings in Mohyliv Podilsky the U.S. representatives offered Lang to be extradited to the U.S. by the simplified procedure. He refused.
The recent court decision canât be appealed and Lang might be sent to the U.S. soon, Skritsky said based on what he heard in the courtroom.