The Prague High Appeals Court mitigated the punishment for Czech career soldier Erik Estu who fought alongside pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, changing his original three-year prison sentence to a two-year sentence suspended for three years yesterday.
The appeals court ruled that the regional court in Pardubice, east Bohemia, had not used the right legal qualification. According to the indictment, Estu left for Ukraine in 2015 and fought along with pro-Russian separatists there.
Estu argued that he had travelled to Ukraine as a tourist and that the Donetsk People's Republic, where he was, was no terrorist organisation. Estu posted his photographs with arms on Facebook. He also spoke about his experiences with other soldiers and people.
The appeals court upheld Estu's demotion. At first, he was facing terrorism charges, but both courts disagreed with the qualification. "He certainly did not intend to join the activities of a terrorist grouping," the chairman of the appeals court panel, Zdenek Sovak, said.
The prosecutor said between April 11 and May 5, 2015, Estu was wearing the uniform of the Republican Guard of the People's Republic of Donetsk.
He fulfilled tasks such as patrolling on the front in a trench, maintaining weapons, unloading of material and guarding the entrance to a market place where the guard members were accommodated.