Three Britons appear to be on trial in a Russian occupied Ukraine court after being accused of working as mercenaries.
John Harding, Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, and military volunteer Andrew Hill will be tried in the Moscow-backed Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Russian state news agency Tass said.
They are expected to stand trial alongside a Swedish and a Croatian man as ‘foreign citizens accused of being mercenaries’, a representative of the court is said to have said.
According to Tass, the three Britons refuse to cooperate with investigators.
Prosecutors claim that all five were members of the notorious Azov Battalion and other military units captured in Mariupol.
Amnesty International and the UK Foreign Office strongly condemned the proceedings.
It comes after the court in Donetsk last month sentenced British men Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner to death in what the Foreign Office called ‘sham verdicts’.
The European Court of Human Rights was forced to intervene and told Moscow that it should ensure that the death sentences imposed on Mr Aslin, 28, originally from Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire, were not carried out.
Tass reported that one of the latest British court in legal wrangles, 60-year-old Mr Harding, said he fought for the Kurds in Syria on the Kurdish side, but denied killing anyone.
According to the BBC, he is an ex-military Mr Harding, originally from Sunderland, who moved to Ukraine in 2018 and appealed to the British government for help in a video.
It comes after a video shown on Russian television in April a man speaking with an English accent whose name appeared as Andrew Hill from Plymouth.
The Foreign Office is understood to be actively investigating and offering support to the men’s families.
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A spokeswoman said: ‘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 about their cases and fully support Ukraine in their efforts to get them released.’
Amnesty International UK last month criticized Moscow for “exploiting” the men’s prisoners.
Kristyan Benedict, the charity’s crisis response manager, said: ‘In exploiting their capture of Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill like this, Russia and its proxies in the Donetsk People’s Republic are already adding to a huge catalog of war crimes they have committed in commit this war. ‘
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Three British men stand trial as mercenaries in Russian-backed court
Source link Three British men stand trial as mercenaries in Russian-backed court