Three Britons plead not guilty to mercenary charges in Russian-backed separatist court

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Three Britons person pleaded not blameworthy to mercenary charges astatine a Russian-backed separatist tribunal successful Ukraine.

John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy, are among a radical of 5 European men connected proceedings successful a tribunal administered by Kremlin-backed separatists successful the metropolis of Donetsk.

Mr Harding, Croatian Vjekoslav Prebeg and Swedish national Mathias Gustafsson, who were captured successful and astir the larboard metropolis of Mariupol, could look a imaginable decease condemnation nether the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

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All 5 men pleaded not blameworthy to charges of mercenarism and "undergoing grooming to prehend powerfulness by force", Russian state-owned quality bureau TASS reported.

The adjacent tribunal proceeding successful their lawsuit is scheduled for October, the Interfax quality bureau reported, citing a connection by the separatists' court.

Mr Healy, 22, who was successful Ukraine arsenic an assistance idiosyncratic was seized astatine a checkpoint southbound of the metropolis of Zaporizhzhia successful April alongside chap British nationalist Paul Urey. Mr Hill, a subject volunteer, was besides captured successful April by Russian forces.

However, Mr Harding had been warring successful eastbound Ukraine's Donbas portion since 2018 earlier helium was captured.

Originally from Sunderland, Mr Harding appealed for assistance from Boris Johnson past period aft being told helium could beryllium handed a decease sentence.

Image: John Harding is facing a decease condemnation if convicted

In June, the Donetsk authorities sentenced to decease 2 Britons, Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, and Moroccan nationalist Saaudun Brahim, accused of being mercenaries.

They were each captured by Russian forces portion warring successful Ukraine and each 3 person appealed against their verdicts.

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Ukrainian societal media has been speculating that the Kremlin whitethorn question to usage the overseas fighters to extract concessions from Ukraine oregon swap them for Russian prisoners.

Foreign governments person declined to negociate with the Donetsk People's Republic, 1 of 2 Russian-backed entities that person controlled parts of eastbound Ukraine's Donbas portion since 2014, citing its internationally recognised presumption arsenic portion of Ukraine.

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