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Two Britons captured fighting in Ukraine face death penalty for being alleged mercenaries

Two Britons fighting in Ukraine and captured by Russian troops have appeared in court.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, are being held in the so-called Donetsk People Republic – an area occupied by pro-Russian rebels.

The court and the region are not internationally recognised.

The two men are charged with being mercenaries.

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However, their families insist they were regular soldiers in the Ukrainian army and not volunteers or mercenaries.

Both men have lived in Ukraine since 2018.

It is feared Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, and Pinner, from Bedfordshire, could be executed if found guilty.

The two soldiers appeared in a barred cage with a third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim.

The British born soldiers spoke to confirm the charges against them.

They have also been accused of “violent seizure of power” and undergoing training to carry out terrorist activities.

They agreed for their case to go ahead without the evidence of witnesses.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, or DNR, was set up by pro-Russian separatists in 2014.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the DNR, said the men will be charged in the region’s supreme court.

Mr Aslin’s family said it “was a very sensitive and emotional time for our family, and we would like to say thank you to all that have supported us”.

They added: “We are currently working with the Ukrainian government and the Foreign Office to try and bring Aiden home.

“Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed, and we hope that he will be released very soon.”

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told LBC radio:

“I don’t know all the details, but of course we would expect the laws of armed conflict to be respected, and we will make sure that we will make all the representations.

“I know the Foreign Office will be looking at making sure all those representations are made.”

 

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