Two more Britons captured in Ukraine ‘face the death penalty’: Aid worker, 22, and military volunteer will stand trial for ‘mercenary activities’ after being arrested by pro-Russian rebels – as Foreign Office condemns ‘exploitation
- Dylan Healy, 22, has been charged with being a mercenary after being captured
- He was charged alongside British military volunteer Andrew Hill, of Plymouth
- Both men will stand trial in pro-Russian court and may face the death penalty
- Pair could join Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner on separatist-held death row
Two Britons who were captured in separatist Ukraine will stand trial for ‘mercenary activities’ and face execution after being captured by pro-Russian forces.
Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, was charged with being a mercenary after he was held at a Zaporizhzhya checkpoint, Russian state media has reported.
Military volunteer Andrew Hill, 35, was held on suspicion of carrying out ‘mercenary activities’, officials in the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic added.
Mr Hill was seen in a video shown on Russian state television as early as April, where he spoke with a strong Plymouth accent and gave his name.
Mr Healy was originally accused of being a spy. Local media has reported both men refused to co-operate with investigators.
The Foreign Office has condemned the latest development, and said it is providing support to the families of the captured men.
It comes just months after Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner, two Britons who were fighting in Ukraine’s ranks before being captured in Mariupol in April, face execution by firing squad after being sentenced as ‘foreign mercenaries’
Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, was charged with being a mercenary after he was held at a Zaporizhzhya checkpoint, Russian state media has reported
Military volunteer Andrew Hill (pictured) was also held on suspicion of carrying out ‘mercenary activities’, officials in the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said
British war prisoners Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (centre) were sentenced to death penalty by Donetsk court on June 9
British detainee Andrew Hill, 35, a father of four from Plymouth, has also been warned to expect the death penalty when his verdict is handed down.
A pro-Kremlin website said the latest hostages would face the same mercenary charges as Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, two British military volunteers captured in Mariupol who have been condemned to death in Donetsk.
Mr Aslin, 28, originally from Newark, Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire, moved to Ukraine in 2018 after marrying native women and signed up to serve in the marines.
Aslin, a former care worker who fought against ISIS in Syria, and Pinner, a British Army veteran, were serving on the frontline in Donbas when Putin ordered his troops to invade on February 24.
They surrendered two months later in the city of Mariupol after their units ran out of ammunition and were surrounded.
Aslin, from Nottinghamshire, and Pinner, from Bedfordshire, were on 9 June convicted to death alongside Moroccan Sadun Brahim, 21, after all three surrendered alongside Ukrainian forces to pro-Putin fighters in Mariupol.
As they were fighting in the regular Ukrainian army, both men are considered prisoners of war under international law – meaning they are exempt from prosecution for violence perpetrated in combat.
However, leaders of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic – a sham state backed by Russia in Ukraine’s east – argue they are foreign mercenaries and has prosecuted them as war criminals.
British foreign secretary Liz Truss called the sentences ‘a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy’, but the Government has thus far refused to intervene directly to prevent the sentence.
Truss has argued that a British governmental intervention could be seen to legitimise pro-Russian claims that Aslin and Pinner are ‘mercenaries’, despite them being paid members of the Ukrainian army with Ukrainian wives.
A former care worker, Mr Aslin (pictured left) moved to Ukraine after falling for his now-wife Diane (pictured right), who is originally from the city of Mykolaiv – found about 260 miles west of Mariupol, along the coast. She is reported to have moved to the UK to be with his family
Shaun Pinner, pictured with wife Larysa, now faces execution by firing squad after surrendering to Russian forces in Ukraine
An FCDO spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes and have raised this with Russia. We are in constant contact with the Government of Ukraine on their cases and are fully supportive of Ukraine in its efforts to get them released.’
European Court of Human Rights judges sitting in Strasbourg issued an edict to Moscow on Thursday, saying Putin must ‘ensure that the death penalty [is] not carried out’ and work to make sure the men are being kept in humane conditions and given medical care.
But Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said Russia no longer complies with the court’s rulings and the pair’s fate will be decided by Ukraine rebel groups.
The Telegraph reported that Ukrainian officials are hoping to exchange Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner for Russian prisoners of war, in order to halt their deaths.
The Kremlin, which has followed a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, could sway the decision from the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Former-US servicemen Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh are also being held in custody by the Donetsk People’s Republic, having been captured last month near Kharkiv.
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