Czech Citizen Facing Charges for Fighting in Ukraine

A Czech national has reportedly been charged with stealing gold and silver valuables during fighting on the outskirts of Kiev in 2022

A Czech national who fought for Ukraine against Russia early in the conflict is accused of robbing civilians, as well as taking items from the bodies of dead comrades on the battlefield, several local media outlets reported on Wednesday.

According to the prosecution, 27-year-old Filip Siman served as a unit commander in the Ukrainian volunteer battalion Karpatska Sic in March 2022, taking part in combat operations around the towns of Irpen and Bucha. Both settlements are located not far from Kiev and saw fierce fighting at the time.

Prosecutors, however, insist, as quoted by the newspaper Ceske Noviny, that Siman had not received a presidential permit to fight in a foreign army.

Furthermore, while on duty with a unit that carried out so-called clean-up operations, he allegedly stole numerous items, including Gucci eyeglasses and gold and silver valuables, and even an oxygen mask from an airplane. He also allegedly took berets and rings from his fallen comrades. Prosecutors said the soldier was detained by the Ukrainian authorities in April 2022 but was later released and returned home.

If found guilty, Siman could face up to five years in prison for fighting in a foreign army and receive an “exceptional” sentence for looting, according to Ceske Noviny. The Czech criminal code stipulates that an “exceptional sentence” could be either a prison term between 15 and 25 years, or even a life sentence.

However, Siman – who is considered a flight risk and remains in custody – argued that while he took some items from the fallen, he never sought to enrich himself. He claimed to have taken the glasses as a “memory of a friend,” and grabbed a golden ring to use it as a prop in promotional videos. As for the silver ingots, the defendant claimed that he was allowed by the army to keep them. He added that the only thing he took for himself was the oxygen mask, which he considered a reminder of his service in Ukraine.

Siman also noted that soldiers often used what they managed to find in abandoned Ukrainian houses, adding that they took some items so that they would not fall into Russian hands.

He insisted that he was not a contractor, arguing that his decision to fight for a foreign army was based on the Czech government’s promises at the time that volunteers going to Ukraine would not face legal consequences.