Captured Western mercenaries could be executed – DPR
Three Western nationals – a Swede, a Croat, and a Briton – could be sentenced to death after being accused of fighting as mercenaries for Ukraine, a court in the Donetsk People’s Republic has warned.
On Monday, Russian media reported that the judge informed the three men of the punishment they could face during a hearing in Donetsk. “The court is obliged to clarify that charges against [Matias] Gustavsson, [Vjekoslav] Prebeg, and [John] Harding call for capital punishment,” the judge said.
The charges include “undergoing training to seize violently power,” “violent seizure of power,” as well as “the participation of a mercenary in an armed conflict or military action.” The other two foreign fighters, Britons Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy, could reportedly face up to eight years behind bars.
According to Russia's TASS news agency, all five pleaded not guilty, with Harding refusing to testify. Gustavsson insisted that he had not participated in fighting. At least some of the men were captured in the city of Mariupol, including at the Azovstal steel plant.
The next hearing in their case is expected in early October.
In June, a court in Donetsk sentenced to death three foreign men who served in the Ukrainian armed forces and fought for Kiev in the DPR. British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, as well as Moroccan Saadun Ibrahim, were found guilty of acting as mercenaries and attempting to seize power by force in the DPR. All three have filed appeals.