The body of Lemekhani Nyirenda was returned to Zambia on Sunday, more than two months after the 23-year-old was killed fighting in Ukraine.
Nyirenda was studying nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, but was arrested in April 2020. He was serving a drugs-related sentence at a medium-security prison near Moscow.
He was recruited out of prison to fight for Russia by the Wagner Group, a mercenary organization founded by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. The Wagner Group has recruited and deployed many Russian prisoners to the war’s front lines, promising them freedom from prison if they join.
Nyirenda was killed in September, but Zambian officials were only notified of his death in early November.