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Russian Media Report Ukrainian Pilot Is Guilty Of Murder Before Judge Delivers Verdict

Ukrainian air force pilot Nadia Savchenko had been accused of causing the death of two Russian journalists by mortar fire.

Posted on March 21, 2016, at 7:22 a.m. ET

Sergei Venyavsky / AFP / Getty Images

Nadia Savchenko

Ukraine's first female air force pilot, Nadia Savchenko, is on trial in Russia this week, accused of killing two Russian journalists by mortar fire.

On Monday, the judge in the case began delivering a ruling and the court was due to read the verdict over the next two days. However, many Russian media outlets have already reported that Savchenko has been found guilty.

Russian state media agency Interfax reported Monday that Savchenko had been found guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of Russian journalists and illegally crossing into Russia from Ukraine.

"Savchenko has political hatred and animosity motivation in committing murder of Russian citizens," Interfax reported the court as saying.

And RT reported Savchenko was "guilty of murdering two Russian journalists near Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, and of illegally crossing the Russian border."

RT included excerpts of the judge's statements.

Savchenko committed murder in collusion with a group of persons motivated by hatred and enmity.

“The motive for the crimes committed by the accused were hatred and hostility towards the Lugansk Region inhabitants, and towards Russian-speaking people as a whole.

The inaccurate stories were then picked up by international media including the BBC, which later issued a correction.

Alicia Melville-Smith

Interfax later reported the Kremlin had declined to comment on Savchenko's sentence and said the court would continue reading out the sentence Tuesday.

Savchenko was captured in June of 2014, while fighting pro-Russia rebel forces in eastern Ukraine. Russian authorities took her into custody in July and accused her of being involved in the death of two Russian journalists in Ukraine.

Savchenko, they claimed, had intentionally targeted the journalists with the mortar that killed them.

Details of how Savchenko got into Russia remain contested. Moscow claims she was caught trying to sneak across the border as a refugee. But the 34-year-old maintains she was kidnapped by rebel fighters at least an hour before the attack and handed over to the Russian authorities, the BBC reported.

Savchenko was elected to the Ukrainian parliament while behind bars and has been hailed a hero in her home, and her trial has been criticized by the EU and the U.S.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Savchenko should be freed "immediately and unconditionally," while U.S. envoy to the U.N. Samantha Power has described the trial as "farcical."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.