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Briton who faces death penalty for fighting in Ukraine appears in court

Three Britons pleaded guilty to mercenary allegations in a Russian-backed separatist court of Ukraine.

John Harding and Andrew Hill are among five European men being tried in Donetsk by Kremlin-backed separatists.

Vjekoslav Prebeg (Mr Harding), a Croatian, and Mathias Gustafsson (a Swede), were all captured around Mariupol and could be sentenced to death under the laws of Donetsk People’s Republic.



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According to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, all five men pleaded guilty to the charges of mercenarism as well as “undergoing training for seizing power by force”.

According to Interfax news agency, the next court hearing in their case will be held in October. This is based on a statement made by the separatist court.

22-year-old Mr Healy was visiting Ukraine to work as an aid worker. He was arrested at a checkpoint south Zaporizhzhia with fellow British citizen Paul Urey. After being accused of “mercenary activity”, he was taken into custody and died in July. Russian forces also captured Mr Hill, a soldier volunteer.

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Before being captured, Mr Harding was fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine since 2018.

He was originally from Sunderland and appealed to Boris Johnson for help last month, after being told that he could face death.

Image John Harding faces death penalty if convicted

Two Britons were sentenced to death by the Donetsk authorities in June. They were Aiden Aslin (28), Shaun Pinner (48), and Saaudun Brahim (Moroccan national), who were accused of being mercenaries.

All three were captured by Russian forces during fighting in Ukraine.

Continue reading:

Donetsk death penalty: Family members of Britons who are facing the death penalty in Donetsk describe their grief

Steven Seagal visits a prison housing Ukrainian detainees, days after dozens were killed in an attack

Social media in Ukraine speculates that the Kremlin might use foreign fighters to obtain concessions from Ukraine, or to swap them for Russian prisoners.

Subscribe to the Ukraine War Diaries Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Spotify, Spotify, Spreaker, and Spotify.

Foreign governments declined to negotiate with Donetsk People’s Republic. It is one of two Russian-backed entities which have ruled over Donbas in east Ukraine since 2014. They cited its international recognition as Ukraine.

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