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Savchenko Trial Opens In Russia
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Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko has vehemently denied charges against her at the opening of her trial in Russia.

Addressing a court in the southern Russian town of Donetsk on September 22, Savchenko described the case as a "piece of rubbish."

She faces 25 years in jail if found guilty of complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and of crossing into Russia illegally.

"It's lies, all of it from beginning to end," Savchenko said.

The next hearing is scheduled for September 29.

Savchenko’s plight and defiant stance in captivity have made her a national hero in Ukraine.

The 34-year-old has spent over a year in custody in Russia during which she protested her detention by going on hunger strike for more than 80 days.

She was also elected in absentia to Ukraine's parliament last year.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Pakistani authorities have postponed the execution of the country's first known paraplegic convict on death-row, about an hour before he was to be hanged.

Prison officials said a magistrate made the decision after talking to Abdul Basit, 43, who was to be hanged before dawn on September 22.

Basit has been paralyzed from the waist down since contracting meningitis in prison in 2010 and uses a wheelchair. He has been on death row since 2009, convicted of murdering a man in a financial dispute.

Basit's sister Shugufta Sultana told The Associated Press news agency that the family was waiting outside the prison on September 22 when they were told of the postponement.

Pakistan's Supreme Court on September 21 rejected a plea to grant a stay of execution for Basit, who insists he’s innocent.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, authorities have hanged more than 230 people since lifting a 2008 moratorium on executions in December 2014.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP and dpa

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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