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The body of a Zambian killed during the war in Ukraine is repatriated

LUSAKA, Zambia — The body of a 23-year-old Zambian student, who died fighting for the Russian army during the war in Ukraine, has been repatriated.

The body of Lemekani Nyirenda, who studied nuclear engineering in Russia before joining the military, arrived at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka on Sunday.

Although he was a student, Lemekani was convicted of drug trafficking in April 2020 and sentenced to 9 years in prison.

He was later pardoned by a special amnesty on the condition that he take part in the war and he was killed while fighting in Ukraine.

The Zambian government has asked Russian authorities to provide details of Lemekani’s death, Foreign Ministry Stanley Kakubo said.

“We were told that on August 23 he was conditionally pardoned and allowed to participate in a special military operation during which he was killed in September,” Kakubo said in a statement. recruitment.”

He said DNA tests to confirm his identity had been carried out and that Russian compensation would be given to his family.

Zambia will work to ensure that nothing like this happens again for a Zambian studying in Russia and that there are no other Zambians in Russian prisons, Kakubo said.

Zambians have expressed sadness that a young student was squeezed into the Russian army to fight their war in Ukraine.

“The pain of losing a loved one in obscure circumstances is unbearable. How can Russia start recruiting our citizens who are studying on scholarships to fight their war? It is definitely not fair and our government should make sure it protects the lives of our citizens in Russia,” said Catherine Mwenya, a resident of Lusaka.

Another Zambian urged the government to condemn Russia for the death.

“This death compels the government to firmly censure Russia and tell them to stop sacrificing our young people studying there to wage this unwanted war with Ukraine. I just hope they do and draw a clear line for what can be tolerated or not,” Kendricks Phiri said.

Family spokesman Ian Banda said the body will be taken to the mortuary at Lusaka University Hospital, where doctors will perform forensics on the body from Monday.

Banda said the burial program will only be announced after the pathology results are established.

ABC News

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