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Russia-Backed Separatists In Ukraine Set Date For Trial Of Foreigners Accused Of Being Mercenaries

By RFE/RL's Russian Service August 12, 2022

Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk have set August 15 as the date for the trial of five foreigners accused of joining Ukrainian armed forces as mercenaries.

The leaders of what the separatists call the Donetsk People's Republic said on August 12 that Matias Gustavsson of Sweden, Vjekoslav Prebeg of Croatia, and Britons John Harding, Andrew Hill, and Dylan Healy will face trial.

According to the separatists, the five men are charged with being mercenaries, preparing for terrorist activities, and conducting activities aiming to seize power. If found guilty, the men may face the death penalty.

Last month, Britain's Foreign Office condemned what it called the "exploitation" of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes following the capture of Healy and Hill. Another Briton, Paul Ury, who was captured along with Healy and Hill, died in July while in the separatists' custody.

In early June, two other Britons -- Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner -- and a Moroccan national -- Saaudun Brahim -- were sentenced to death by the separatists for "mercenary activities."

All three say they were serving in the Ukrainian military when they were captured by pro-Russia separatists while fighting Russian forces.

Britain, the United Nations, Ukraine, and Germany condemned the death sentences.

The European Court of Human Rights on June 30 intervened in the case and warned Moscow it must ensure the death penalty is not carried out.

The British government insisted that as legitimate members of the Ukrainian armed forces, they should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

Westerners have been traveling to Ukraine to help defend it against Russia's unprovoked invasion that was launched in February or to assist in providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians forced to flee their homes.

With reporting by Interfax

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-separatists-ukraine-set-trial-foreigners- accused-mercenaries/31985677.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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