The body of the Zambian student recruited in a Russian prison by the paramilitary group Wagner before being killed in fighting in Ukraine was repatriated from Russia to Lusaka on Sunday, AFP journalists noted.
On the tarmac of the airport in the Zambian capital, a white hearse with windows adorned with small curtains revealed a coffin with roughly nailed boards and stamped with a code drawn in black marker and letters in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Lemekhani Nyirenda, 23, who was serving a prison sentence near Moscow, was killed in September in Ukraine.
The student at the Institute of Physical Engineering in Moscow was sentenced to nine years in prison in April 2020 for a drug case.
The Zambian government last month demanded an urgent explanation from Russia about the circumstances of his death.
Two weeks later, the Wagner group admitted having recruited the young man in prison, claiming that he had voluntarily joined the group before dying "
" in Ukraine.
Russian law makes it possible to pardon a prisoner in the context
of "special military operations
", explained at the beginning of the month the Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stanley Kakubo, regretting the death of Lemekhani Nyirenda in these conditions.
Holding hands, shoulders, often in tears, his relatives including his parents and his brother welcomed his remains on Sunday.
A choir accompanied them.
Together they sang religious songs.
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The family declined to speak to the press.
A family spokesperson said the body is to be taken to a morgue for forensic examination and the burial date will be announced later.